Why Africa is in dire need of more successful local gambling events
The gambling industry in Africa is one that mainly involves young adults, women, the middle class and the elderly. In Sub-Saharan Africa, namely in countries such as South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, jobs in the gambling industry have been provided for millions of people, in a continent ruled by one of the highest unemployment rates in the entire world. In reality, gambling sums up the continuous evolution of a continent that is regarded as the poverty center of the world.
The expansion of the iGaming industry across Africa was made possible by the spread of the internet and the simplifying of access to smartphones and tablets. Taking notice of occurrences in Latin America, specifically with the legalization and ensuing takeoff of gambling in Brazil, Latin America will definitely be a force to reckon with. However, Africa is still the main investment destination for the gambling industry.
Africa is heavily reliant on direct foreign investment from different parts of the world and the gambling industry is surely no exception to that fact. The platform created for investors to meet with the government and local partners are few and without these platforms, achieving any type of growth in the gambling industry is virtually impossible.
It is crystal clear that the gambling industry is quite a busy one, as most of the gambling events are designed to cater towards promotion of the industry in specific domains where they are created. The largest gambling markets in Africa currently are South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, with South Africa controlling about 48 percent of the industry in the whole continent. All three of them are worth around USD$40 billion. Africa has seen much regional growth in gaming, mainly in East Africa and Francophone Africa, while North Africa has been showings signs of growth in the esports industry.
Still, the gaming events that took place in Africa have not been able to attract the much needed foreign investments. Eventus International, which is a Hong-Kong based company with an office in South Africa, first planned a gaming event in Africa. At first, it attracted exhibitors and sound resource persons to its event, but as time went on, exhibitors at its events in Africa decreased. The reason behind that could possibly be the logistical problems in the region and the contents of its events.
Let’s take a look at SBWA 2019 that took place at Eko Hotel and Suite. Attendees were very few compared to the 2018 event (which took place at the exact same venue where exhibitors also were few). The event is targeted towards the West African players, but hardly did any major gaming brand or gaming executives from West Africa attend the event, not even from neighbouring countries such as Togo and Ghana, which surely raises some concerns.
ICE Africa was actually the first major gambling event to take place in Africa. ICE London, Clarion Gaming’s premier and premium event, is deemed the biggest gaming event in the whole world, raking in hundreds of gambling brands from all over the globe and has been a platform for fostering business relationships and networking for ages. So there were obviously expectations on ICE Africa to deliver good content, speakers and bring in possible investors. The 2018 event was able to live up to expectations concerning content, exhibitors and speakers and the event which took place in Johannesburg, South Africa was well attended by regulators and players from all over Africa. On the other hand, the 2019 event which took place at the same venue was shunned by players in the industry as a protest against the xenophobic attacks which took place in South Africa. Prior to the event, South African citizens had frequently been attacking and destroying many businesses owned by citizens of other countries in Africa.
This went on for quite a while and the South African government failed to curtail its citizens and punish or arrest the offenders. South Africa became a very unsafe space and many Africans, as well as the intentional community, did not end up attending the event. Aside from that, procuring a South African Visa is very difficult and costs a lot of money.
The content and speakers at the 2019 event were all amazing, but attendees and exhibitors were very few compared to the 2018 edition. The uproar over the rotation of ICE Africa among African countries should be taken into account by the organizers, judging by the dichotomy prevalent in Africa. The name of the event is ICE Africa, hence major gambling jurisdictions in Africa should be able to host the event among themselves as this will educate Europeans and other global citizens on Africa and its many tourist attractions.
Even though no major physical gambling event took place in Africa in 2020 (same goes for other parts of the world) because of the COVID-19 pandemic which led to closed borders and lockdown, SBC London based Organization and Monografie SA based in Buenos Aires, ended up organizing virtual events in Africa. The combined worth of the three leading gambling jurisdictions in Africa is around USD $40 billion, and none of these countries have a good gambling event. To grow and attract foreign and local investors, there is need to have home grown gambling events in all major gambling jurisdictions in Africa. The reason behind this is because such platforms will and can address the major problems in that specific country. For example, a gambling event in Nigeria could properly address issues such as regulation, taxation, responsible gambling, marketing, etc… It will also open up the gambling industry in Nigeria which is the second biggest in Africa to investors.
Aside from that, Africa is made up of four major regions, namely West Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa and North Africa and nothing stands in the way of organizing regional gaming events, as is done in other continents. This will allow for regional and local growth of the industry, especially now that Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement has come into full force since January 1st 2021.