Betting on sports is currently the most popular form of gambling in Africa. Adults and young locals are particularly fond of wagering on European football, e.g., the English Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A, and events like the World Cup. Other international sports also get a loyal following here, with many watching and supporting cricket, rugby, horse racing, and basketball. Sports, particularly the passion for soccer, is the bind for most regardless of their culture, language, religion, status, or political persuasion.

For example, roughly 60 million residents aged 18 to 40 actively bet on sports in Nigeria. According to the same survey, Nigerians bet an average of 3,000 Naira or $15 daily.

According to a South African government survey in 2017, sports betting grew 14% yearly from 2008 to 2016. Today, online sports betting makes up 45% of the country’s gambling market, a completely different picture from ten years ago when casinos had an 80% market share. And it’s the same trend in Southern, Central, East, and West Africa. So, it’s unsurprising that the African gambling industry was worth US$ 3,048.05 million in 2021 and will grow by 6.99% until 2030.

Betting on a $3bn gambling market and a dynamic African economy

While gambling and betting laws are contested issues in most parts of Africa, many benefit from its operations. Stories and anecdotes from the region reveal that many see the growing betting industry as a source of income. As betting grows, the economy benefits.

One segment that directly benefits from the industry is the group of small betting shops that often run promotions, including ‘betting points’ for every sports wager. With this regular promo, and during events like the World Cup, their sales go up.

Regional economies also benefit through a boost in employment opportunities. The sudden surge in betting companies has provided locals with employment options, with thousands of Africans working for local and foreign companies. Aside from direct employment, betting companies create jobs by allowing locals to become agents and run their betting outlets. There are partnerships and sponsorships also that benefit other stakeholders. For example, a few European bookmakers have partnered with the Nigeria Football Federation, while Bet9ja was a title sponsor for the Nigerian National League. The same bookmaker has a million-dollar partnership with Big Brother Naija, a popular reality TV show.

African sports betting is unique in that it grows not in isolation but in step with other industries, particularly IT, advertising, and banking. As a result, there’s a symbiotic relationship between the sectors as stakeholders, each benefitting from the other. And some even argue that sports betting has given more in return.

 South Africa

The South African betting market contributes to the region’s economy, which can exceed $2.3 billion by the end of 2023. It’s a significant number since South Africa’s GNP is the third highest in the region. Moreover, with a bigger share per capita, local bettors have more regional purchasing power, allowing them to bet more significant amounts in online sportsbooks and betting shops.


It’s the same story with Nigeria, Africa’s second-biggest gambling market. According to auditing firm PwC, the Gross Gaming Revenue in the country was $58 million in 2018, and at that time, the team projected that it would rise by 16% over five years. But in 2020, it moved past the  $443 million mark. The massive growth of gambling in Nigeria started in 2004 when the ban was lifted.


Kenya is another African country with a regulated betting industry. However, its growth slowed down with the introduction of restrictive tax laws. The Kenyan government introduced a 20% tax on bets and a 15% tax on the GGR. While it may benefit tax collections, it eventually backfired, with many operators leaving the Kenyan market.

In other African countries, sports betting’s contribution to their economies is not substantial or clear-cut due to strict laws and regulations. As mentioned, online gambling is illegal in 38 countries, and they still rely on colonial legislation.

 What’s ahead for sports betting and the African economy?

With these mindboggling data on bettors’ activities and revenues, it’s unsurprising that many African countries are looking to tighten tax laws and regulations and generate more revenues from the industry. As betting grows, so will its effect on the regional economy. So, the challenge for the governments and operators is finding a mutually beneficial arrangement for taxation.

And there are the social costs of sports betting, too. As one Uganda-based analyst suggests, the growth of sports betting “threatens to push young men and women into its fatal depths.” The government must consider the growing importance of betting to the African economy.

Source: African Business Communities

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