Gambling has always been popular in Africa with land-based casinos and bookies dating back some 50 years or so. While there’s no denying that casino gambling comprises a large segment of the market, sports betting has been rising in popularity over the past few years. Currently, the industry is worth around $37 billion and looks set to continue booming over the next few years.

As it stands, the fastest growing markets for sports betting are South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, while the East Africa states of Tanzania and Uganda are slowly but surely following their lead. The most popular sports that African citizens place bets on are all the major ones like football, horse racing and rugby, all of which attract thousands of punters each year. However, other more niche options are also gaining ground such as golf along with the African sport of Juksei. 

Is Sports Betting Legal in Africa?

The laws surrounding gambling in Africa are quite controversial and not to mention, ambiguous. When it comes to sports betting however, the situation is a little clearer. Currently. African citizens are allowed to use the services of both land-based and online sports betting operators as long as the operators are in possession of the adequate licenses from national regulatory watchdogs.


However, there is a worrying number of citizens who are losing large amounts of money to sports betting every year, which is why the authorities have been trying to come up with new ways to control and regulate the industry.

Male youths are especially susceptible to this phenomenon, as they believe that sports betting is an easy way to make quick money or get rich overnight, when the reality is that they lose more money than they win.

In fact, a recent Amendment Bill was passed in South Africa just around a month ago, intending to crack down harder on the industry by imposing stricter measures and harsher penalties for those that ignore them. Among the proposed measures was the push to make dog racing illegal and impose advertising restrictions for operators. However, the bill has been criticized by many experts who claim that it will do more harm than good.

The Future of Sports Betting in Africa

The reasons behind the growing numbers of citizens engaging in sports betting comes down to vulnerable groups of people taken in by promises of big wins as well as the success of African athletes on the international sports scene.

Additionally, the advances in mobile technology also has a hand in driving the industry forward, as is evident from the first ICE Africa event which will be held in Johannesburg in a few weeks’ time. A conference of this calibre in Africa just goes to show that the gambling industry in the continent will continue to flourish, with more operators looking to take advantage of opportunities and tap into the local scene.


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