Words by John Bamidele, founder of gbc.ng, a leading digital news portal on gaming in Africa. Well versed and experienced in Africa gaming, John has been a journalist for two decades working in Print and electronic media, writing on Sport, Marketing, Marketing Communication, Tourism and Politics
Although retail gambling still dominates Africa, online gambling has been on the rise. Statista, a research company reported that online gambling and betting was estimated at $12 billion in 2005 and $15.2billion in 2006 and it rose to $29.3billion in 2010. It accounted for $45.8 billion in 2017 and expected to increase globally to $94.4 billion by 2024.
South Africa controls 48 percent of the gambling market in Africa, followed by Nigeria and Kenya respectively. Africa can be a tricky place to invest considering the political instability prevalent in the region in the past, economic instability, low infrastructural facility and endemic corruption. However there has been a lot of improvement in the area of political and economic stability and this has attracted massive foreign investments.
“What does it take to start an Online Gambling Business in Africa” is a question l constantly get from foreign investors wanting to have an offshore investment in Africa. Budding entrepreneurs are always eager to know what it takes because a wrong move might result in them losing a significant amount of investment. Gambling in Africa is a treasure but it is difficult to know where and what unless you get a good consultant who understands the terrain. I am going to take you through the process, step by step and this advice can be used in any gambling market in Africa. These factors will guide you and serve as your guide to success.
1. Good Knowledge of Chosen Market
This point is very fundamental before embarking on such a venture. Have said it before and am going to say it again, the African gambling market is totally different from what obtains in Europe and other parts of the globe. A proper understanding of the market dynamics in different regions of Africa is required. Your market understanding will guide you on how to invest, what to invest and how to reach your market target.
2. Choose a Reliable iGaming Software Provider
Coming to Africa with software that has worked in other gambling markets is a prescription for failure. When choosing software for your operations in Africa, either white label or customized, it has to be built purposely for the African region. A lot of gambling software providers in Africa have a good knowledge of the region, nevertheless having a unique set of specifications is key. Criteria to consider when choosing software should include the following: Excellent System for Gaming Management, software should have flexible Multi-Currency Support, Efficient and good customer support, the software most have user friendly payment modules, must have unfettered access to events, betting markets, contents and a customisable front-end. It will also not be a bad idea if your website is bilingual. This gives you an advantage because Africa is dominated by two major languages, French and English but there are other languages that are widely spoken in sub-Saharan Africa like Swahili and Hausa languages. Also known as Kiswahili, the Bantu language is spoken by some 150 million Africans in Central and Southern Africa including Mozambique. The language is also widely spoken in East African countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It might also be a good idea to find a service provider who provides a turnkey White Label Solution. The reason being that, it allows you focus on your target market and strategies. Making sure your gambling software provides the aforementioned features plays a vital role in the smooth running of your business in the region.
Obtain a License
Obtaining an online license is important to the smooth operation of your business in your chosen jurisdiction. In Africa, retail is still king but the growth of online gambling business is on the rise. Several services are now made available online and obtaining a license is important for business owners to show the legitimacy of their company and their services. Obtaining a license convey to customers that your business is operating under the rules and it’s legitimate. For instance in Nigeria, a federal or a state license allows you to operate online. However, there have been clamor for reforms because a federal license will only allow you operate online because the states that legalize gambling in Nigeria will not allow you operate retail business. The cost of obtaining a license differs from one country to the other and obtaining a license can take a few months to a year. When applying for a license, do so under a legitimate agency or the regulatory body. Obtaining a license is one thing and online regulation is another. There are few countries in Africa with a well regulated online market, therefore it will be nice and safe to know where online gambling is properly regulated, partially regulated or not regulated at all. Application for a gambling License can be time-consuming because it takes a lot of efforts and paperwork.
Choose a Good Payment Platform
A flexible and good payment platform is germane for the success of an online gambling business. Trust breeds confidence. Earning the trust of players in Africa is a key factor because a lot of gambling brands have failed to pay punters and this has led to loss of trust and confidence. In all businesses, nothing beats a fast and reliable payment system. There a lot of foreign and local payment solution services in Africa, however a good payment platform should meet some basic requirements. Top on the list is the provision of a seamless payment transaction, multi-currency support, maximum security, fraud detection, e-merchant integration and complete service. To secure customer loyalty and help improve players gaming experience, enabling multiple payment options is advisable. For instance, South African players on play online casino mostly use their credit cards to fund their casino accounts. Neteller, Skrill wallets and prepaid cards like EcoCard are also popular among casino players; therefore it is advisable to include all these options in your payment offerings. Depending on where your business is operating from, the local currency should be considered first because players always want to have a clear picture of how much cash they have in their account. Cryptocurrencies are growing in Africa and it will be nice to allow punters play with Bitcoin. Therefore to attract a bigger audience, adding Bitcoin as an alternative payment option will be a nice idea.
Design a Website For Your Online Gambling Business
Your website serves as an interface with your customers and members of the public. Therefore, the website should be fascinating, inviting, eye-catching, should also contain a lot of information and most importantly, easy to navigate and engaging. The site should be not heavy and can easily be accessed through Smartphone. Remember not to overload your website with unnecessary concepts and design, in fact go for simple and efficient designs. Customer engagement is very key and this can be effectively done through social media platforms. When having promotions, it is important to make it interactive by encouraging customer participation so as to retain your user’s interest. It has been proven beyond doubt that interactions between you and your customers can help you understand their wants. Therefore, it is better to reach out to them through the social media platforms and customer support channels. By now you should have decided on your service provider and decide whether to offer popular casino games like roulette, slots, baccarat, blackjack, bingo or poker. User-friendly interface like live video streams bring casino feel into players’ homes. Research has also shown that in-play betting has come to stay and their need to include additional features such as player statistics and real-time chat rooms. Your iGaming provider is the life blood of your business; therefore, it is advisable to carefully choose one. In all, a reliable software service provider can help integrate the necessary content under a smooth website interface.
A Well Detailed Marketing Blueprint
Getting other things right and not the marketing of your product is a failure ab-initio. This is probably one of the most important areas when launching a gambling brand or any product for that matter. You will need to focus more on marketing your gaming website when everything else has been taken care of. To do this effectively, the marketing team has to conduct detailed and extensive research on your competitors in other to know what they are doing right and what they are not. This is imperative, so you know which mistakes to avoid. For instance, operating with limited offers will make your customers lose interest and this might force them to opt for other companies offering better services. Your marketing strategy should place your customers’ needs and happiness in the front burner so as to retain them. Talking about player retention, any serious operator needs to find a way of increasing the retention levels. Products like Frequent Player Points (FFP), Promotions for seasonal events, Notifications, VIP loyalty Programs and Betting assistance for new players are some of the marketing tools for players retention that can be deployed. Your organization should also have a well packaged 360 marketing communication blueprint that will address your online advertising, public relation, sponsorship and other forms of communication platforms and strategies.
Conclusively, starting an online gambling business can be hectic, time consuming and challenging. Investors should take into cognizance whether the market in the country offers significant development opportunities, the legal situation in the gambling market and players’ preference.
Following the UK’s December 2020 release of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, SiGMA Group will move its February event to April. SiGMA Europe, which will be based in Malta, will now run from 13-15 April, 2021.