African millennials represent a rapidly growing population for sports betting, despite widespread poverty and high levels of unemployment in the region. Across the region, it is estimated that more than half of sub-Saharan African youth (17-35 years old) have bet on sports. Experts claim that this can further dampen the growth of an already struggling region, by encouraging gambling addictions.
Combined with poverty and unemployment, gambling addictions can lead to maladaptive behaviours such as committing crimes or increased social anxiety and loneliness. While gambling has always existed in some form of another in Africa, it is only in the last few years that gambling has become a widespread issue within the region. Why?
One key change is the advent of cheap smartphones and Internet access in Africa. Africa has a very young population when compared to the rest of the countries. Almost 60 percent of its people are younger than 25, and most of these youths are unemployed, hold insecure jobs, or work part-time. The allure of making quick money by gambling is very appealing to these young people which is a major factor behind the increase in sports betting throughout the continent.
This desire is empowered by the production of cheap smartphones and Internet access in Africa. More African youths have a smartphone today than ever before and browse the net to keep updated on a number of sporting events, including sports that are not popular in Africa.
Sports Betting Madness In Africa
Such access is useful for sports betting operators, as the exposure to international sports and popular sports clubs fuels the urge to place bets on their favourite teams and sporting events.
Young Africans can now watch expensive pay-per-view games on their phones cheaply and do not have to subscribe to a cable provider.
This allows them to follow just about every major sporting event around the world and gain real time access news and updates that they can use for insight on which teams to bet. A GeoPoll survey carried out in 2017 saw over 2,700 individuals from South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda participate and share their views. The survey revealed that Kenya had the highest percentage of sports betting with 74 percent. Those numbers are expected to have increased in the last couple of years.
A number of African governments are now forced to address the increase of gambling addiction in the country and gaming regulators are taking steps to impose more restrictions on gambling providers. However with the increase of smartphone usage and cheap access to mobile internet, it is going to be hard to control African’s love for sports betting.