Africa doesn’t generally get a lot of attention from the online gambling business, at least, not in comparison to the attention shown to mature markets in Europe, grey/black markets in Asia and the eagerly awaited arrival of legal online gambling in US markets. Africa presents unique challenges for operators, such as the reliance on prepaid mobile handsets for accessing the internet, making streamlined mobile interfaces a must in order to avoid alienating customers.
The continent’s unique requirements are no secret to South Africa’s BetTech Gaming, the power behind that country’s Justbet.co.za and Bet.co.za sports betting sites. BetTech has just inked a deal to supply its BetTech Sports product to Durban-based Kruger Racing’s online betting site Krugerbets.com. With feature phones the overwhelming preference for local customers, Kruger GM Craig Swan said BetTech’s mobile offering would provide easy access for “thousands of devices … rather than solely going for the much smaller smartphone market.”
In July, BetTech’s chief technology officer Ian Barnes told Gambling Insider that feature phones “are the main – if not only – connection to the digital world for their owners … Forgetting these devices severely limits product reach.” Barnes believes it is “so easy to disengage users, especially at an early stage … A smart supplier will have both a smart and non-smart phone strategy in place.” While two-thirds of European mobile traffic is conducted via apps, Barnes says 90% of Africa’s mobile traffic takes place via the browser. BetTech’s “mobile web-first strategy” not only allows “a far quicker time to market” but users don’t worry about losing functionality if they fail to upgrade to the latest app version. Barnes offered a word of warning to would-be market entrants: “If you forget about mobile in Africa, Africa will forget about you.”
UGANDA’S 256BET UPGRADES
BetTech also announced a new partnership with Ugandan land-based and online sports betting operator 256Bet. In addition to providing the revamped 256bet.com site with its BetTech Sports product, BetTech is providing a new mobile fixed-odds and in-play betting product, complete with localized payment gateways via MTN Mobile Money and Warid Pesa. Barnes warned that access to bank accounts and credit cards “cannot be taken for granted” and that African-facing operators should put “a huge focus” on utilizing payment methods local gamblers recognize and trust.
256Bet has also added the Betradar-integrated Virtual Football League product, which offers a ‘close to reality’ fixed-odds wagering experience any time, day or night. 256Bet owner Innocent Bamurike Davis credited the enhanced betting options as giving his site a “real competitive advantage.”
BET9JA COMES OUT IN NIGERIA
Further north in Nigeria, sports betting firm Bet9ja is preparing for its official launch on Thursday, Sept. 5. The company, whose parent outfit KC Gaming Networks operates retail betting outlets in Lagos and has plans to expand to other Nigerian cities, has been in business for over six months but is now prepping the official coming out party of its online site bet9ja.com and its mobile offering.
Bet9ja CEO Ayo Ojuroye says his full-service outfit is registered with the national lottery board and is “the only company that provides odds betting on the Nigerian [football] league.” To further that link, Bet9ja has signed on as official shirt sponsor of the Nigerian Football League’s Remo Stars FC. Bet9ja also offers odds on “horse racing, dog, ram, basketball, tennis and other sports betting.” (Ram?) In June, Nigerian lottery authorities okayed the launch of NairaGames Casino, the country’s first domestic online casino.