The African continent was able to avoid such a dramatic shock from the coronavirus pandemic that Europe, Asia and North America faced. Nevertheless, the gaming industry of the continent has taken 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 all over 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. Even though 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 prospects, 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 under the influence of difficult circumstances the African market can be qualitatively diversified. For more details, please see the article below.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only changed people's 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 left powerless against such phenomena. Certainly, something like this has happened before - Ebola, avian flu, meningitis; people have already faced a mass threat. In this respect, Africa has always been in a very difficult situation, with the consequences of pandemics becoming a disaster. Mostly due to poverty, weak health care systems or poor infrastructure.
The Spanish Influenza of 1918 armed humanity with effective methods to contain, and in some cases even effectively and accurately dampen, the foci of disease. However, as mentioned earlier, a hallmark of this pandemic is its devastating impact on existing economic systems.
The exceptional situation is the African approach
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 this. Some experts believe that Africa's success lies in having the experience to fight similar diseases. Some believe that Africans have a tropical climate on their side to fight the pandemic.
However, no matter what the reasons for Africa's limited success, strict social distancing measures have been introduced in a total majority of African countries. Almost all commercial activity was curtailed and some countries imposed curfews.
Impact of COVID-19 on the African gambling industry
The gambling industry was one of the first industries to feel the direct impact of the pandemic. The strongest 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 - sports events. The latter has reduced the vertical income 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 this region are unrealizable, given that the latter is strictly prohibited in most countries.
Experts, involved in the African market, note that in other countries bookmakers may resort to alternative options of betting, the most common of them are bets on virtual sports. However, according to experts bettingsitestz.co.tz, this niche is not able to fill the huge gap that was formed after the cancellation of sports events.
One of the most active users of gambling services on the continent is considered to be Nigerians. It is believed that every day 60 million adult citizens of the country make bets to the amount of about $5 million.
Yahya Maikori notes that in the best case bets on e-Sports 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 the work of ground gambling facilities. He also adds that in Africa the audience of online gaming is only 30% of players.
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 except a few companies with 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 main question for the industry is how much impact the pandemic will have when quarantine is complete. Intelligent Africans note that there may be several waves of infection, respectively, the need for temporary shutdown may occur more than once. According to the Africans, the situation may be repeated until the vaccine is invented.
In this regard, Yahya Maikori predicts a surge in political and legislative activity, which will be observed evenly throughout the continent. He believes that the authorities will actively reform the rules of the gambling industry to stop the outflow of funds to the shadow gambling operators. Thus, South Africa is likely to gradually legitimize online gambling. Especially against the background of the fact that the work of gaming institutions makes a significant contribution to the economies of such countries as Lesotho and Mauritius.
One of the negative trends is that part of the economically unprotected population will actively resort to gambling, but not as entertainment, but as a way to get money in times of crisis. However, first of all, according to the expert, one should tune in to a sharp outflow of players who, as a result of a temporary hiccup in the gambling industry, are likely to give up the entertainment at all. The balance between these two trends will predetermine further development of the gaming industry in African countries.
For operators who are ready for the results in the long term, the situation may be favourable about the promotion of such gambling games as poker, classic entertainment virtual casinos, including slots. Interest in these products will be ensured by the fact that previously the market was mainly focused on providing betting services, especially on offering a bet on the outcome of soccer matches.
Not the last place in the development of the industry can play a strengthening of mobile gambling, promotion of which will be actively promoted by a policy of distance.
In Europe and North America, it has already been stated the growth of demand for online gambling operations, a similar trend is likely to be observed on the African continent. It should also be noted that the development may be slow. The main reason for this will be the problems with a 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 the online gaming industry in Africa. Also, 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 several waves of disease at once, 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 whole range of online gambling services becomes relevant. It should also be noted that contrary to the expert's expectations, taking into account the protracted legislative processes on the gambling market legalization, this is most likely not a question of acquiring legal status in the conditions of a pandemic. However, this situation is likely to trigger the development of the virtual gambling industry. The observation regarding the increased demand for online casino games is also most likely justified.
As aspects slowing down the growth, we can certainly point out the lack of a high-speed Internet that Europeans are used to, 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 a form of leisure.