African gambling market: impact of COVID-19 and prospects for legalization

African Gambling Market
Gambling market
The African continent has managed to avoid such a dramatic shock from the coronavirus pandemic faced by Europe, Asia and North America. Nevertheless, the continent’s gaming industry has suffered a tangible blow. How the era of the pandemic will affect the development of African gambling markets – read in our article.A dangerous disease that has spread around the world has significantly adjusted the course of development of many business sectors. Gambling markets, especially the offline vertical, have taken one of the biggest blows. Despite the fact that the disease is less prevalent in Africa than in other regions, it was not possible to avoid the impact of COVID-19 on the gambling industry. However, in addition to the gloomy outlook, there are also quite optimistic forecasts for the development of promising African markets. One of them was given by an industry expert, Yahya Maikori. The expert’s idea is that the African market can be qualitatively diversified under difficult circumstances. You can find out more about this in the article below.


The COVID-19 pandemic has not only changed people’s daily routine or affected their physical health. The disease has put into question the economic foundations of modern society. It is doubly dangerous that an economic disaster in the form of a pandemic was not predicted, and economists were powerless against such phenomena. Certainly, something like this has happened before – Ebola, avian flu, meningitis; people have already faced mass threat. In that regard, Africa has always been in a very difficult position, with the consequences of pandemics reaching catastrophic proportions. Mainly because of poverty, weak health systems or poor infrastructure.The Spanish Influenza of 1918 armed humanity with effective methods to contain, and in some cases even effectively and accurately quench, the foci of disease. However, as mentioned earlier, a hallmark of the pandemic is its devastating impact on existing economic systems.

The exceptional situation is that of the African approach

Contrary to all expectations

Surprisingly, contrary to all expectations, most sub-Saharan countries were better prepared for a coronavirus pandemic than Europe and North America. There are two possible explanations for that. Some experts believe that Africa’s success lies in having experience in combating similar diseases. There are also those who believe that Africans have had a tropical climate in their fight against the pandemic.

However, whatever the reasons for the limited success of African countries, strict social distancing measures have been introduced in a total majority of them. Almost all commercial activity was curtailed and some countries imposed curfews.

Impact of COVID-19 on African gaming industry


African gambling

The gambling industry was one of the first industries to feel the direct impact of the pandemic. The greatest blow to the African region was the cancellation of sporting events, including the long-awaited Olympic Games.

Thus, the sports betting industry has lost its main source of events – sporting events. The latter has reduced vertical revenues to zero. It should also be noted that unlike European countries in Africa, the most popular legal type of gaming is betting. Alternatives in the form of online casinos in the region is unrealizable, given that the latter in most countries has a strict ban.

Experts involved in the African market

Experts involved in the African market, note that in other countries bookmakers may resort to alternative betting options, the most common of them are bets on virtual sports. However, according to the expert opinion, this niche is unable to fill the huge gap that has been created since the cancellation of sporting events.

Yahya Maikori notes that at best, e-Sports betting can be considered an additional option, but not the main source of income for African bookmakers. The expert also notes that the complexity of the situation lies in the need to stop ground gaming facilities. He also adds that the audience of online gaming in Africa is only 30% of players.Interesting is

One of the most active gambling users on the continent is considered to be Nigerians. It is believed that every day 60 million adult citizens of the country make bets worth about $5 million.

Given the difficult economic situation in the region, after several weeks of forced suspension of work, many residents are in survival mode.



The expert also noted that with the exception of a few companies with a truly solid capitalization, the rest of the market participants are not able to provide their staff with salaries for more than one month. The latter may happen provided that quarantine measures are extended.

Consequences and prospects

The key question for the industry is how much impact the pandemic will have when quarantine is complete. Intelligent Africans note that it is possible that there will be several waves of infection, so the need for temporary shutdowns may occur more than once. In the opinion of Africans, the situation may be repeated until the vaccine is invented.One of the negative trends is that part of the economically unprotected population will actively resort to gambling, but not as an entertainment, but as a way to get money in times of crisis. However, first we should tune in, according to the expert, to a sharp outflow of players who, as a result of a temporary hiccup in the gambling industry, are likely to give up gambling at all. The balance between these two trends and will predetermine the further development of the gaming industry in African countries.
Yahya Maikori therefore predicts a spike in political and legislative activity that will take place uniformly across the continent. He believes the authorities will actively reform the rules of the gambling industry in order to stop the outflow of funds to shadow gambling operators. Thus, South Africa is likely to gradually legitimize online gambling. Especially as the gaming industry makes a significant contribution to the economies of countries such as Lesotho and Mauritius.For operators who are ready for long-term results, the situation may be favorable with regard to the promotion of gambling such as poker, classic entertainment virtual casinos, including slots. Interest in these products will come from the fact that in the past the market was mainly focused on providing betting services, especially on offering a bet on the outcome of football matches.

The strengthening of mobile gambling, which will be actively promoted by distance policy, may not be the last factor in the development of the industry.

African policy

In Europe and North America, the demand for online gaming operations has already increased, and a similar trend is likely to be observed on the African continent. It should also be noted that development may be slow. The main reason for this will be the problems with broadband connection, as well as the lack of modern gadgets.

However, Yahya Maikori believes that the pandemic could be a turning point for the development of online gaming industry in Africa. In addition, the African continent is not alone in this situation, which has already had a strong impact not only on gambling, but also on other business sectors.



Thanks to experience with epidemic crisis times, Africans are preparing for multiple waves of disease, with the possible reintroduction of quarantine measures. In this context, the issue of legalizing not only online betting operations, which represent the gambling market in the region, but also the entire spectrum of online gambling services, becomes relevant. We should also note that contrary to the expert’s expectations, taking into account the protracted legislative processes on the legalization of the gambling market, it is most likely that we are not talking about the acquisition of legal status in a pandemic. However, this situation is likely to trigger the development of virtual gambling industry. The comment about the increased demand for online casino games is also likely to be justified.

As aspects slowing down growth, we can certainly point to the lack of the familiar to Europeans high-speed Internet, as well as modern communication devices.

But the most negative moment of legalization against the background of the economic crisis may be the formation of an incorrect understanding of gambling as a way to earn money, rather than as a form of leisure.