Online gambling in Africa is reaching new highs every year, and gambling operators are eager to enter a new untapped market that’s predicted to have the highest potential of revenue in the upcoming decades.
In a continent that’s been continuously struggling with poverty, promises of riches oftentimes advertised by gambling operators work like magic. This opens a question with regards to the protection of players, and whether this protection is sufficient. Let’s look at the data.
Impact of problem gambling on the African population
With the rapid growth of technology and Internet accessibility in Africa, the African population is becoming increasingly more exposed to the dangers of online gambling.
The 18-35 population is at an increased risk of developing problem gambling symptoms, with studies showing that 54 percent of Sub-Saharan African youth have engaged in some form of gambling activity in 2018. 57 percent of youngsters from Uganda have taken part in some sort of gambling in their lives, and as many as 76 percent of young Kenyans – the highest figure from the study – have stated they have engaged in gambling before.
What’s more, although Sub-Saharan countries are expected to fully comprise the list of top 10 countries with the youngest gamblers by 2050, very few statistics about problem gambling in Africa can be found online.
The continuous development of Internet accessibility and smartphone penetration among the African population pose a concern that the percentages outlined above might now be even higher. Combined with low standard of living and high unemployment figures which have serious social and psychological impacts on the African youth, problem gambling is becoming a big issue for the already-frustrated African youth.
Compulsive gambling has been shown to lead to significant intra- and interpersonal issues even for individuals from developed countries, so it’s safe to say that its impact on Africans can be twice as devastating:
- Problem gambling places a huge financial burden on the individual and their family, resulting in debt, widening of poverty, and potential homelessness.
- The pressure from loss of money and desperation is directly linked to increases in violent behavior, alcoholism, and predatory sexual behavior.
- Decline in mental health and general psychological and physiological well-being can be observed, making escaping poverty extremely improbable.
What is safer gambling?
The term safer gambling has started to gain traction among gambling industry professionals in recent years. Although it encompasses a larger spectrum of concepts and practices than the traditional 'responsible gambling' term, the end goal of both concepts remains the same: to reduce gambling-related harm and problem gambling through a series of preventative measures and education.
In Africa’s case, safer gambling aims to educate all players about the dangers and potential consequences associated with gambling, as well as to offer a set of self-limiting tools that allow one to keep their gambling habits in check. It also emphasises the importance of gambling help organisations and their availability for players in need, and, last but not least, the concept entails legislative measures and best practices that ensure the safety of the African population that gambles.
What should operators know about problem gamblers?
When it comes to problem gambling-related data about Africa, it becomes fairly hard to come across comprehensive and representative data. This, however, comes barely as a surprise, given that the African gambling regulation greatly varies from one country to another, with some African countries having virtually no gambling regulation whatsoever.
According to Simon Vincze, Sustainable & Safer Gambling Lead at Casino Guru, there are, however, several facts about problem gamblers that hold true for all countries - including Africa.
“Operators doing their business in Africa should know that revenue from problem gamblers has no long-term perspective. It's very short-lived, and you will never reach the potential customer lifetime value of the player. It's actually fairly simple, yet even operators in more developed countries are still struggling to wrap their head around it: gamblers with healthy gambling habits will stay with you for a considerably larger amount of time, which means that the revenue they generate over the years will most definitely exceed any short-term gains you might get from problem gamblers,” Vincze explained.
Given the level of unemployment and income deficiency across the African continent, operators entering the African market have a much better long-term profit potential from healthy gamblers who gamble over a longer time period then they do from problem gamblers whose gambling journey tends to be short-lived and detrimental.
“All casinos entering the African market need to understand that, besides making a profit, they are here to entertain people and make sure they have a safe experience. They should not aim to take advantage of players with gambling problems, as these often come with their own set of challenges. Sustainable online gambling is an effective solution to these problems, as discussed in the upcoming Safer Gambling course that is a part of our Casino Guru Academy project,” the Casino Guru expert concluded.
What does safer gambling bring to the table?
No matter what license you hold, if you plan to enter the African market, you need to understand that placing focus on a safer gambling strategy and fostering a gambling environment that encourages healthy gambling habits from the very beginning has significant long-term benefits for your business.
“The sooner all operators understand they bear a certain level of responsibility for protecting their players and that safer online gambling offers a sustainable business strategy that ensures efficient protection of all players, the sooner we can decrease the prevalence of problem gambling among the African population,” emphasized Vincze.
A shift from a mindset that sees profit and safer gambling to go in the opposite direction to a mindset where safer gambling directly contributes to longevity and profitability of a business is a much-needed change that might just have the potential to change the whole game.