Sports Betting Drives Growth In South Africa, Botswana, Malawi

February 8, 2023
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The gambling industries of South Africa, Botswana and Malawi all saw sports betting become a key driver of growth and tax revenue amid impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, regulators say.

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The gambling industries of South Africa, Botswana and Malawi all saw sports betting become a key driver of growth and tax revenue amid impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, regulators say.

Before COVID-19 began affecting the market, about 60 percent of South African gambling revenue came from casinos and only around 20 percent came from betting, according to Caroline Kongwa, CEO of South Africa’s National Gambling Board.

After COVID-19, betting accounted for around 46 percent of gambling revenue, she said at the ICE London expo on Tuesday (February 7).

Leading a roundtable discussion on the African market, Kongwa said the big challenge now for South Africa is bringing legal clarity to what can be bet on, as existing “blurred lines” have generated legal challenges on lottery betting, for example.

A delegate from the Mpumalanga Gambling Board (MGB) said that betting in that jurisdiction, one of two South African provinces allowing live casino bets, accounts for around 80 percent of the market.

The MGB representative also estimated that gross gaming revenue (GGR) for the financial year ending March 2023 will be R600m (€32m).

A similar story of sports-betting proliferation has played out in Malawi as a result of COVID-19.

A representative from the Malawi Gaming Board & National Lotteries Board said that before COVID-19 casinos accounted for around 60 percent of the gambling market in the country.

Sports betting now makes up around 65 percent of the market.

“With new regulations recently introduced in November 2022, we are in a bit of a transition period,” the representative said, adding that Malawi is finalising details of new regulations such as an advertising code.

“We are discussing that we don’t want ads to appeal to children, be near schools, and potential restrictions on when adverts can be broadcast. This still needs to be finalised, it’s only in the drafting stage,” the Malawi regulator said.

Also on the roundtable was Peter Kesitilwe, acting CEO of the Botswana Gambling Authority, who said he is keen for operators to apply for a licence that now allows for land-based and online betting.

“The government is losing out on taxes,” Kesitilwe told VIXIO GamblingCompliance, adding that the regulator is in the “final stages” of approving licences to be awarded by the end of June 2023.

“Online betting is now legal but there are unlicensed operators already active in the market. We want to encourage them to apply.

“It will improve player protection, increase taxes as well as contribute to responsible gambling developments. Operators need to apply and normalise being regulated,” Kesitilwe said.

As with Malawi, Botswana’s regulator is supporting ongoing efforts to introduce an advertising code for gambling that would also prohibit material that appeals to children.

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