Casinos still king in South Africa, but sports betting’s the prince


south-africa-sports-bettingSouth Africa’s gambling market continues to be dominated by its land-based casinos, but casinos were the only gaming vertical to post a revenue decline in fiscal 2017.

On Thursday, South Africa’s National Gambling Board (NGB) released its annual report covering the 12 months ending March 31, 2017, in which overall gaming revenue (excluding lotteries) hit R27b (US $1.2b), up 3.8% from fiscal 2016.

Nearly two-thirds (66.4%) of the total was generated by the nation’s land-based casino operators. The casinos earned R17.9b in FY17, down 1.8% from the previous report, which the NGB blamed on a decrease in operating positions in six provinces.

Casinos also claimed 73.2% of all gambling turnover, but the total amount spent at casinos’ slots and tables was also down around 1.2% year-on-year. In fact, casinos were the only gambling vertical to report declines in both turnover and revenue in the most recent fiscal year.

Sports and horserace betting accounted for 18.9% of overall market revenue, as betting enjoyed a 14.3% year-on-year gain to just under R5.1b. Sports was the chief engine of betting revenue growth, rising 22% to R2.6b, while sports tote betting revenue improved 11% to R281m. Horseracing revenue improved 12% to R1.1b, while tote racing was basically flat at just over R1b.

The Euro 2016 football tournament was evidently a big hit in South Africa, as sports betting turnover was up over 40% to R32.8b in FY17, and sports tote turnover was up 30%. By comparison, race betting turnover was up a more modest 24.5% while tote turnover actually declined 7%.

South Africa currently permits online sports and race betting, but the NGB declined to break out separate figures for land-based and online wagering. Last year, the country proposed revising its gambling rules to increase penalties for unauthorized gambling operators and to confiscate the winnings of South African punters who patronize these sites.

The non-casino, down-market limited payout machine (LPM) sector generated revenue of R2.7b, up 14% year-on-year and accounting for 10% of total market revenue, thanks to an increased number of the machines across the country.

South Africa’s bingo operators enjoyed a significant uptick in FY17, rising nearly 37% to just under R1.3b, good enough for around 5% of the overall market. The NGB credited the gains to increased operational bingo positions in the North West and Eastern Cape provinces.