The African continent has over 1.2 billion people living in
it and accounts for 16.3% of the world’s population, making it the continent
with the largest population behind only Asia.
Of the countries we will focus on here, Nigeria is the
country with the seventh largest population in the world. The Democratic
Republic of Congo is 17th and Kenya 29th.
Due to its potential, which is based on the size of its
population and the resulting revenue that is available across the continent,
Africa could easily become the next big area of focus over the next few years
when it comes to the gambling industry.
The fact that this is all relatively new in African
countries and many such opportunities remain unexplored, helps explain why the
sky is the limit as far as gaming and Africa goes.
Of course, seeing the potential and having the frameworks in
place to explore it are two very different things. Knowing the local laws,
processes and acquiring the necessary licences to make it all happen require
knowledge, connections and experience. Which of course is where we come in to
make it all happen.
A few years ago, PriceWaterhouseCoopers released a report
called the Gambling Outlook 2013/17 which studied the pace at which gambling
might grow in Africa over the next few years. Of all the countries included in
the report, Nigeria came out top in terms of being the one with the potential
for the fastest growth, which could be anywhere north of 17% in terms of
Lotteries held at national level are regulated through the
National Lottery Act of 2005 which determine how they should be run, what taxes
are paid by both the Operator and the winners and what other measures need to
be put in place to ensure everything runs smoothly and fairly. In 2011, the
Money Laundering Act was put in place to establish measures and penalties
relating to Money Laundering offences, which apply to the Gambling
Whereas both of those are relatively recent Acts, most of
the other ones relating to Gambling in Nigeria are from a while back.
For example, the definition of ‘gambling’ can be found in the
Criminal Code of 1990 and the Gaming Machines Act of 1977 is the one that
relates to gaming machines such a slots and video poker.
At present, there does not seem to be a set plan by the
Nigerian government to get this legislation updated.
For example, 2013 saw the first-ever Nigerian online casino
open its virtual doors. NairaGames Casino has admittedly shut down since but it
shows that being granted a licence to operate as a legal online casino there
can be done. Further proof of that is
the fact that not only are there five licensed online sportsbooks, but two of
them also have online casino games on their site.
As things stand, Nigeria can be said to be semi-regulated.
The law states that legal betting includes skill-based card
games such as Casino Hold’em, Roulette and Backgammon, which can be played at
one of three legal bricks-and-mortar Casinos in Nigeria. These three Casinos
also offer sports betting facilities which make up a greater share of the
country’s revenue generated from gaming than all the table games put
There are currently also a handful of Nigerian-based and
owned sports betting sites. These are extremely popular and 100% regulated.
It is also legal to bet on state-run betting pools and horse
racing totes. These two forms of gambling are actually regulated very strongly
with measures put in place to ensure every bet on them is registered, the
winnings are divided equally and properly among the pool winners and that any
establishment running them is licensed before being open for business. Anyone
running these operations without the proper license can face heavy penalties
including huge fines and imprisonment, all of which reiterates the point that
everything needs to be done by the book and that of course is where our work as
consultants will be invaluable in making sure that no stone is left
Similar licensing requirements and subsequent penalties to
those who do not have them also apply when it comes to running lotteries.
Understanding Nigerian Law and how to interpret it is
therefore paramount and for those who succeed in making it work in their
favour, the business potential is almost unparalleled.
Gambling laws in Kenya are mostly set out in the Betting
Lotteries and Gaming Act of 1966. The first thing it did was to hand power over
to the Betting Control and Licensing Board, responsible for virtually all
aspects of gambling in Kenya but above all, set up to regulate gambling
That includes the 28 casinos, 11 bingo halls, three
sportsbooks and one horseracing track available on Kenya.
In this respect, Kenya has a more organised and formal
approach to regulating gambling than other African countries, of which Nigeria
would be a good example, as mentioned already.
Examples of the state having a formal and organised approach
to gambling within their borders are that gambling is a big source of revenue
for the state. This is mostly through a 20% tax on lottery winnings charged to
players and further taxes imposed on operators through taxes and licensing
To apply for a gaming license in Kenya, applicants need to
contact the Betting Control and Licensing Board and complete a special form
referred to as 13A. On completion they will have to pay the Board a fee to
carry out an investigation to determine the suitability of the applicant (and
in the case of a land-based business, the premise). The Board will then decide
whether to grant the license.
Unlike Kenya, there is no Gaming Authority or other special
body regulating gambling in Congo. Instead, the Government itself is
responsible for doing so and the absence of a dedicated body does not mean
gambling there is not regulated. On the contrary: there are structures and
procedures in place that mean gambling activities are controlled, tax is paid
by licence-holders and that proceeds from running lotteries are put towards
Gambling in Congo is legal and since 2005, all ‘games of
chance’ have been regulated. Since then, a few amendments have been made to
update the definition of what are games of chance and what are not but as
things stand, they include: lotteries, slots and other games where human
interaction or involvement does not affect the actual outcome.
In contrast, there seems to be less clear-cut guidance
regarding games of skill such as blackjack and poker meaning it is not obvious
whether these games are considered gambling. Although you could argue they are,
because they are readily available in both of Congo’s two Casinos.
In addition to these two land-based Casinos, other regulated
forms of gambling in Congo are bingo (it is specifically mentioned as an
example of a game of chance though Bingo halls are at a premium in the region)
and lotteries. The National Lottery, authorized back in 1984 through
Presidential Order No. 84-155, is 60% state-owned and 40% in private hands.
Much like the National Lottery in the UK, proceeds from
running it, after winnings have been paid out, are used to fund socio-economic
activities and causes that serve the public interest.
But if these forms of gambling are regulated, online gaming
certainly is not. It is legal to play online but in the absence of any
Congo-based online operators or specific rules relating to playing with foreign
sites, that is as far as the guidance goes.
There is relatively
recent legislation governing Gambling – The 2006 Gaming Act – which has made it
legal to bet in Ghana and the body responsible for its regulation is the Ghana
Gaming Commission (GCC).
The GCC’s responsibilities include the regulation,
monitoring and supervision of games of chance and sports betting operators, as
set out in the aforementioned Act.
That includes dealing with the licensing and running of the
country’s four land Casinos and the five overseas companies (at the time of
writing) who run Sportsbooks. Mostly focusing on European soccer but also
offering markets on US Sports which are popular among Ghanaian punters, they
have bricks-and-mortar shops scattered around the country and also offer the
facility for Ghanaian players to place their bets online or via their mobiles.
Applicants wishing to obtain licenses must contact the Ghana
Gaming Commission and follow the subsequent procedure. In the specific case of Casino licences, the
applicant must also obtain approval from the National Redemption Council.
Casino licences are granted for a period of one year upon the payment of a fee
and the licence holder can apply for the license to be renewed at the end of
that year upon payment of a renewal fee, which is considerably smaller than the
one paid to be granted the licence in the first place.
The GCC however does not deal with the Lottery side of
things, which is run by the National Lottery Authority (NLA), set up in 2007.
Similar to Congo, the lottery is both an important source of revenue for the
country through taxes, as well as a way of funding aid for the socially
The National Lottery Authority (NLA) also owns a sports
betting product going by the name of Soccer Cash.
In one respect, Ghana is therefore a regulated market when
it comes to Gambling as we have seen, through a relevant and recent Act and
bodies set up to make sure everything is run smoothly when it comes to for
example, licensing and taxation.
Online betting is readily available in all the countries we
considered as case studies and in particular in Nigeria, which has the highest
quality and greatest reach when it comes to internet connections.
In Nigeria, there are local sports betting companies present
within the country offering online/mobile betting and in the case of Ghana,
there is the NLA-run Soccer Cash product that is available in shops, bars and
online as well. Plus foreign companies who are allowed to operate on Ghanaian
soil as long as they have the requisite license.
What all four of them have in common is that none of them
have openly made it illegal for citizens of their country to bet online with
It is, therefore, up to each and every betting company to
decide whether they want to accept players from the four countries we have
looked at. Of the four, Nigeria is the country that foreign companies have been
more sceptical about accepting customers from, but plenty of other operators
have been happy to welcome them to their site.
Looking at the case studies covered here, we can reach a few
general conclusions, even though all four countries are slightly different.
They differ is in terms of governing bodies specifically set
up to regulate the gambling operations. Some of them have specifically
appointed regulatory bodies to deal with some or all of the gambling-related
issues within that country such as licensing, taxation and penalties whilst
others, of which Congo is the best example, have managed it all through the
Government itself without that necessarily making the regulation process any
Similarly, some are also more competent than others and how
strict they are with granting licenses and imposing penalties, will also vary.
They all have land-based Casinos and lotteries available to
play on their own soil and whereas some of them have their own sports betting
operators, they all make it legal for their citizens to bet with foreign
operators, if they so wish.