All eyes are on the FIFA World Cup currently taking place in Russia. It is always one of the most popular sports events for betting, and it seems the people of Uganda particularly embrace it. Sports betting is taking off in the country, and many gambling companies will be closely watching on with interest.
Why the sudden uptick?
In recent times, there has been a significant increase in the level of sports betting throughout East African countries such as Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya. This is a huge market that is largely untapped by the gaming companies.
Technology is allowing more and more people in these countries to place sports bets, whether at physical locations or online. As internet usage and availability continue to increase in the region, there will be a race between the various betting companies to take advantage of this untapped market.
There are obvious concerns with the social consequences that may arise with increasing levels of gambling, along with the economic opportunities that may become available. Other regions outside of East Africa also have significant numbers of sports bettors, such as South Africa, Nigeria, and Ghana.
Kampala is the capital of Uganda, and 736 gaming venues are located there, according to the National Gambling Board Uganda (NGBU), with 583 having the appropriate licenses. Those who have online operations in the country will pay 20% of their revenue to the state, and there is a 15% tax on punter’s winnings.
Sports betting fanatics in Uganda will bet on anything they can get their hands on, whether it is the Premier League or something more obscure like football leagues in Azerbaijan and Albania. The average bet is around the $0.50 mark.
Of course, the wages earned in countries like Uganda are lower than in Western countries, so this is a much greater portion of their income.
A lot of the sports betting operators advertise large jackpots and potential high-yielding bets such as accumulators. Gamblers are lured in with the idea of winning it big, something that would have the potential to change their lives.
In a developing country such as Uganda, there is not really much support for those who develop gambling issues. Events like the World Cup traditionally spike levels of betting. Through such a high-profile event with so much television and media coverage, a significant number of people are newly exposed to the world of sports betting.
Future of African sports betting
There is the ideal mix in Eastern Africa for a boom in online sports betting. The population is young, and the region’s economies are growing at a rapid rate. Smartphone usage is constantly trending upwards, there is a passion for sports, and unemployment levels are rising. This is the more optimistic viewpoint being taken by some people.
Others are a bit more pessimistic; they would point to the young population as being impressionable and therefore a vulnerable target for gambling companies and their marketing efforts. The promise of big wins in these developing countries constantly abounds but, of course, they are out of reach for most people.
All across Africa, populations are growing at a rapid pace. Unemployment is also growing and studies show that unemployed people are more likely to be active gamblers on sports. This, of course, is a major issue because they have no regular income sources to support themselves, which can lead to problem gambling.
Sports betting laws throughout Africa are generally a lot more lenient than those found in Western countries. This means that gambling companies can get away with certain things they wouldn’t dream of doing in a stricter regulatory environment.
The central marketing theme for a lot of sports betting operators in Africa is the promise of life-changing wins. With such high levels of poverty and unemployment, the allure for this get-rich-quick deal is alluring.
All they supposedly need to do is win a certain bet, such as a football accumulator, and they will be able to rise above the poverty line and live a comfortable life. Money goes a long way in these countries, so even a win of a few thousand dollars would be life-changing.
It is clear that most countries such as Uganda are sports-mad, particularly when it comes to football. Sports betting takes matters to a different level and will provide an outlet for potential financial gain for countless people in Africa. The amount of people betting on sports on the continent is only going to grow exponentially in the coming years.