Is Africa the Next Big Gambling Market?

Is Africa the Next Big Gambling Market?

By Ima Matthew | Sub Editor on August 27, 2020
gambling online gaming online Nintendo Switch, online gaming video games
Attendants play various video games at the inaugural WAGE 14 (West Africa Gaming Expo), Dec. 20, 2014. | Andrew Esiebo/Al Jazeera America

People all over the world enjoy gambling in its many forms. Whether it is betting on sports or playing casino games, people have always enjoyed using their luck and skills to win some money. Cities like Las Vegas and Macau have grown to represent the glitz and glamour of gambling. As gambling moved online, the UK and Europe seem to have charted the path, with America slowly following. Africa’s iGaming industry was, however, a bit slow off the mark, mostly due to lacking internet infrastructure, lagging regulatory frameworks, and other issues.

However, according to the World Bank and African Development Bank, the continent now surpasses Europe and America, with more than 650 million mobile phone users. Anyone with a smartphone in their pocket can play casino games or check out the latest odds. The number of sports bettors and online casino players, as well as the iGaming industry revenue, has continuously been growing.

In a few years, the iGaming industry is expected to explode in Africa, with H2 gaming predicting the industry’s value will reach $2 billion by 2024. Of course, not many countries have been accepting of gambling, and there are still a lot of issues that need to be ironed out. These include matters like problem gambling and the different age limits in several countries. Africa is a big place—it is the second-largest continent, following Asia. There are a lot of economic, cultural, gambling laws, and political differences between most of the countries.

Economic and Political Factors

Most African countries do not rank very high compared to the rest of the world in terms of economic prosperity. A lot of the states have lacked basic infrastructure and other necessities that make an organised gambling industry possible to propagate. Some of them have, however, made significant progress over the years and now show great promise. It is also crucial to consider a variety of cultural factors. For example, North African countries are mostly Islamic and conservative, which reduces their likelihood to gamble. Some states have also gone through several political upheavals, which makes gambling and other leisurely pastimes less of a priority. However, we cannot paint the whole continent with one brush. Some African countries have risen above such unfavourable conditions and are already forming buoyant gambling scenes.

Emerging Industry Leaders

Most African countries have a gambling industry in one form or another. People may participate in the national lottery, land-based sports betting, full-fledged casino gaming, online gambling, or a combination of several platforms. However, a few countries seem to lead the pack, with more advanced gambling industries. Let’s look at them in more detail.

South Africa

South Africa is the second-largest economy in Africa after Nigeria. It is, however, considered as the continent’s leader as far as gambling is concerned. Online sports betting and online casino gambling have taken off in recent years, with a lot of gambling sites now accepting South African players. There are close to 50 land-based casinos and hundreds of bookmaking shops. Horse betting and bingo halls ate yet another area that customers seem to have taken a liking for. The gambling industry has seen a steady growth of the gambling market revenue and is expected to continue growing if things remain as they are. In addition to casino games, the sports betting sector also enjoys many fans and review sites such as are reference points for those looking for the best offers of the moment. That’s because the path towards growth will require reliable sources of information to feed the growing number of players.


People have been gambling in Morocco for more than half a century now. The country legalised gambling just four years after it gained independence in 1952. There are plenty of land-based casinos in Morocco, although as it is a mostly Islamic country, not as much players visit these establishments. As such, the Moroccan gambling scene caters more to the needs of the multitude of tourists and foreigners that visit the country each year.


Tanzania is a more interesting market leader. Although the country is not as economically developed as South Africa, locals can afford to enjoy an occasional roulette or card game. Tanzania also has a vibrant tourism industry which accounts for up to 17.5% of the GDP. With so many tourists, it only makes sense to have plenty of sports betting shops, bingo halls, and casinos open to the public.


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