Poor Regulation and Rapid Expansion of Mobile Internet Puts Millions of Young African Punters at Risk of Suffering Gambling Addiction

Gambling Addiction among One of the Main Factors Pushing Young Nigerians to Various “Social Vices”

Currently, there are dozens of international gambling and betting companies operating across Africa, taking advantage of the rapid expansion of mobile internet, loose regulation, and the growing population of young people who hardly see any job prospects.

As revealed by H2 Gambling Capital, the revenue generated by legal gambling services in Africa has almost increased three-fold in the past decade, reaching $7.3 billion. Although the betting market of the continent is relatively small, gambling is recognized as a growing concern by market analysts. In some countries, such as Rwanda, it equals a significant part of the gross domestic product (GDP), with the Government generating easy money but fully disregarding the fact that local people need protection against gambling-related harm.

Games of chance were largely unavailable to most of the population until the early 2000s when the majority of gambling services were provided by a few casinos situated mostly in tourist areas and larger cities.

According to reports, the locals’ surging interest in sports (European football in particular) has boosted the popularity of gambling. Furthermore, gambling and betting operators tend to advertise heavily in communities where TVs are still not that common, in an effort to bring in new customers and encourage them to come back.

International Gambling Companies Luring Young Africans to Their Services

Despite the growing concerns associated with the fact that gambling is quickly spreading in Africa, it is also getting a lot easier to gamble there. According to H2 Gambling Capital’s reports, Africans are expected to spend approximately $2.9 billion online by the end of 2023. And the fact that it is getting easier to access finance through mobile money networks literally anywhere across the continent, facilitates gambling companies that are trying to lure millions of people into their services.

As explained by the founder of the Gaming Awareness Society of Kenya – Nelson Bwire – the ease of betting combined with the ease of access to credit has put many people in a “debt trap”.

Gambling sometimes helps Government budgets, but actually, investors outside the region get a larger part of the profit and, in most cases, has a detrimental impact on people’s well-being. Chris Bunn, a University of Glasgow sociologist, shared that gambling companies actually do not do much for the economies of the countries they operate in.

The situation is only getting worse because the regulatory environment varies significantly across the continent. Some countries, such as Somalia, currently do not allow gambling in any form but there are also ones with loose regulation where there are tens of registered operators. The second ones are often among the countries featuring the highest rates of gambling addiction and gambling-related harm.

According to researchers and non-profit organizations, industry players in Africa often outspend regulatory bodies. Analysts believe that many African countries’ Governments are simply not equipped to tackle the potential risks and harms associated with betting, particularly in countries where access to online gambling significantly increased. And the fact that young audiences are also getting easy access to online gambling, is also a problem because many of them think that gambling could be the answer to their financial issues quickly and easily to make a fortune. In reality, things are usually quite different.

Author: Edward Adams