Chinese company targets Kenya's gambling billions


Gamblers in a betting outlet in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

China Lotsynergy Holdings, a Hong Kong listed lottery firm, has ventured into the Kenyan national lottery business through its wholly owned unit, Ideal Smart.

“The Board of Directors of China LotSynergy Holdings Limited is pleased to announce that, Ideal Smart Limited, an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of the company, has officially entered into co-operation agreement with Golden Paw Lottery, a company that was granted with relevant licence and authorisation by the Betting Control and Licensing Board of Kenya on national lottery business,” said the Chinese firm in a regulatory filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

“This is the third stop of its entry into the African lottery market following the strategic partnership in Ghana and Sierra Leone, marking the group’s full-blown expansion into the African lottery market.”

It says its Kenya entry will see it cover all-round services of “lottery technology, gaming and operations.” “Apart from businesses of computer-generated ticket games (CTG), single match games, video lottery and scratch cards, both parties will also fully capitalise the advantage of the booming mobile payment market in Africa, and focus on mobile and internet lottery collaboration,” it said.

The firm said it would ride on Kenya’s mobile phone penetration to grow its business.

“Kenya is the largest economy in East Africa and also one of the countries with the fastest growth of mobile payments in the world,” it said.

The Kenyan betting industry has in recent times recorded a surge in popularity amid aggressive marketing campaigns by players.

“In the first half of 2017, it again was the fastest growing region around the globe with a growth rate of 5.6 per cent.”

Projections are that gross gambling revenue in Kenya stands at Sh7bn monthly and about Sh100 billion annually, according to the betting regulator.

“The African lottery has posted explosive growth in recent years with a growth rate of 3.4 per cent in 2015, and recorded a growth rate of 26.3 per cent in 2016 to become the region with fastest market growth,” said the Chinese firm in the statement.