/ 19 December 2023

How Africa’s gambling industry is evolving


Will communal sports betting have a significant impact on the growing online casino industry?

When we think of Africa, gaming might not be the first thing that springs to mind. Sure, amazing wildlife, ancient history or ethnic diversity may, but poker or slots are unlikely to feature.

So, you might be surprised to learn that the online gambling market in Africa is projected to reach a revenue of $1.63 billion by the end of 2023. With an annual growth rate of 7.68%, this means that this figure could be worth $2.36 billion by 2028, with over seven million gamers. 

When compared to the rest of the world, this figure suggests that, while profitable, online gaming in Africa is in its infancy. If you compare the huge continent of Africa to a smaller country like Ireland, it’s clear where the demand is; Irish online casinos are well established, offering high-quality games with enticing bonuses, but the quality just isn’t there for residents of Africa. There is a disparity between those who enjoy playing online and those forbidden to do so. 

We could even argue the African gambling industry should be doing much better. Consider that the ancient Egyptians played dice and that superstition and luck were culturally significant entities before the rise and rise of organised religions.  

But gambling is forbidden in Islam and doesn’t conform to Christian doctrine, and both of these popular African religions have superseded traditional beliefs. Having said that, there is evidence that sports gambling in particular is being more tolerated than, say, slots.

Sports gambling attributed $0.7 billion to the $1.63bn predicted by the end of 2023. And as technology becomes more affordable and the internet more accessible, this figure can only go one way — we’ll touch on this a little more shortly. 

South Africa is leading the way for the interest in online gambling. What it doesn’t do is explain the popularity of sports gaming over, say, slots or poker.

This question is further complicated when you consider that South Africa probably has more land casinos than the rest of the continent put together. Of course, sports betting in land casinos doesn’t exist, so it would seem that religion, wealth and location have all played a role in the evolution of Africa’s gambling industry

What is abundantly clear is that the current wave of interest in gambling in Africa is being driven by online casinos. So, let’s begin by looking at how that works.


We touched on this earlier, but it’s safe to say that without connectivity, online casinos wouldn’t exist. However, according to the World Bank, only 36% of the African population had access to the internet in 2022, which puts the earlier figures into context.

And don’t forget to take into account that 43% of Africa is without smartphone access. So, obviously, Africa’s gambling industry will continue to evolve along with online infrastructure.


In South Africa, the National Gambling Act of 2004 vaguely prohibited “interactive games” online, but this is rarely regulated. As for the rest of the regulations in wider Africa, they’re a mess.

One of the biggest issues is fraud, a lack of tight regulations allows criminals to run rife. But this will improve, just as it did in the US and UK, for example.

The reason is simple: a country can profit from online gambling, so it’s in their interest to clean up the business. Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda have already begun to take steps in this direction, and expect more to follow. 

Sports betting

In many respects, this particular form of betting may not be helping online casinos as much as it appears on the page. This is because sports betting is, by and large, a social activity — it’s not confined to a smartphone, it’s more of a shared communal experience. 

It’s also properly regulated in at least 16 African countries, which means it’s a money spinner for the countries involved. And somewhat ironically, as the industry evolves, it’s creating jobs and even shows signs of being beneficial to some communities.

Sooner or later, of course, sports betting will become decentralised and online casinos will take advantage. But for now, it’s still very much a social activity. 

What’s around the corner?

It should be clear that Africa is very much in a tip-of-the-iceberg stage. Look at the emergence of online gaming across the globe if you want an idea of where we could be heading in just a few years.

It’s also worth factoring in a younger generation of Africans who will have grown up exposed to new technology in a way their parents wouldn’t have. As Africa’s online infrastructure continues and improves, end-user technology will develop to make online gambling more accessible than ever.

The six-million-dollar question is if the current trend for live, communal sports betting will have a significant impact on the burgeoning online casino industry going forward.