While it is legal to operate online sportsbooks in South Africa, internet casino gambling is prohibited.
Even without online casinos in South Africa, the country’s gambling industry is booming. According to a PwC prognosis, local sports wagering turnover in will reach ZAR 24.2 billion (USD 2.4 billion) in 2016, a 42% growth from the 2012 figure of ZAR 17 billion (USD 1.7 billion).
Faced with this situation many companies are seeking ways to better exploit the only online activity that is allowed under South African gambling laws.
According to gaming solution provider BetTech Gaming, some players are better placed than others to benefit from the boom with the right strategy.
The company’s GM Anli Kotze believes that licensed casino groups and sports marketing agencies with large databases and many channels to get their message across “should consider online betting and gaming as a new way to leverage these assets”.
The company’s COO, Mark Bosman agrees. “We see a massively growing trend around web, mobile and live in-play betting, typically around sports such as football,” says Bosman, adding that “we have seen that there is massive demand and a growth trend happening in South Africa and Africa for these sorts of products”.
“The larger casino retail players are looking to get into the sports betting space almost in anticipation of online casinos becoming legalised. In the interim, launching a sports betting business is the first step into that online gaming market in South Africa,” says the COO.
At least one company is already walking that suggested path. The local and regional resort hotel and casino chain Sun International has recently forged ahead with the purchase of Powerbet Gaming, and through it the Voltbet betting site.
This entry into online gambling is in line with the strategy described a few months ago by Graeme Stephens, CEO of Sun International as continuing “to keep an eye on the alternative forms of gaming, such as sports betting, limited payout machines and electronic bingo”.