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Does Nigeria really have the biggest gambling industry in Africa?



With a population of over 200 million people, a large percentage of whom are neck deep into betting waters, it would be easy to assume that Nigeria has the biggest gambling industry in Africa.

But is that really the case?

Nigeria is comfortably ranked amongst the top three gambling nations in Africa, with South Africa and Kenya being the other two countries on the list, but the order of arrangement varies depending on the metrics you are considering.

In terms of sheer number of bettors, there is really no competition. The Nigerian population is more than two times larger than that of South Africa and Kenya, and therefore has more gamblers than these other countries.

In fact, it is estimated that over 60 million adult Nigerians are involved in sports betting. This is roughly the entire population of South Africa, and more than the 54 million people living in Kenya.

However, when discussing gambling markets, population is just one of many metrics considered, and definitely not the most important factor.

It is usually about how much money is being generated and circulated in the industry, and that is where Nigeria falls short.

In terms of Gross Gaming Revenue, South Africa is the clear leader in Africa, with the country said to control a massive 40% of the market. South Africa’s gaming revenue is projected to cross the $5 million mark by the end of 2023.

South Africa may have a lower population than Nigeria, but the country more than makes up for this with its stronger economy and high GDP per capita. On the average, South African bettors have a much larger staking power than their Nigerian counterparts.

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It also helps that South Africa has a more developed casino industry. While Nigeria is still heavily dependent on sports betting and lottery, SA is very big on casinos- the biggest gambling vertical in the country.

And given that casino players are generally higher rollers than sports bettors and lottery players, the SA industry is able to generate more money.

Another metric that may be used to weigh the size of a gambling market is the number and type of operators in the country. Nigeria has quite a few lotteries going around, but there are only about 50 sports betting operators.

Kenya is particularly strong in the sports betting business, especially in their online space. According to betting affiliate giants, My Betting Sites Kenya, there are more than 80 licensed betting companies in the East African nation.

Kenya also has arguably the best financial inclusion in all of Africa, majorly thanks to the MPesa mobile money platform. This has made it extremely easy for the entire population to send and withdraw money gambling operators.

Nigeria clearly still has some way to go before usurping their rivals. We have the population, but we don’t quite have the spending power.

Also, international operators generally tend to fancy a country like Kenya ahead of Nigeria because of the clearer betting regulations.

Nigerian betting policies are still generally vague, with lack of clarity on online betting laws in the country. The fact that there are multiple regulatory bodies also doesn’t help. The National Lottery Regulatory Commission is the federal body, but several states like Lagos, Oyo and Anambra also have their own independent gaming boards.

The state and federal bodies have not always seen eye-to-eye, which is obviously not encouraging for potential operators looking to enter the market.

Nigeria has a huge gambling market, but it is not quite as big as it ought to be. Our poor economy and unclear gambling regulations have combined to pull us well away from our revenue potentials.

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