Will Westcott Business Development Manager for Betgenius, details why Russia 2018 comes at a perfect time for African sports betting stakeholders, as consumers move to embrace in-play dynamics.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is projected to be the biggest global betting event on record, exceeding the estimated £1bn wagered on the same event four years ago.
This summer’s main event will further underline the explosive growth in global betting markets. Innovative new ways to bet, sharper trading and enhanced marketing campaigns have broadened customer demographics and swelled turnover year-on-year.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in Africa, which has five teams, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Senegal and Nigeria, heading to Russia. Although this probably has more to do with the buoyant state of its sports betting sector than the countries representing the region.
According to PwC’s Gambling Outlook 2013-2017 report, which pulled together data from Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya, the 2014 World Cup played a dominant role in a 57.6% rise in sports betting revenues compared to 2013. A similar spike is likely to happen again.
Following its dynamic growth in European markets, in-play betting is expected to be the catalyst behind the massive expansion of sports betting across Africa. Although in-play is still a relatively recent addition to most African operators’ portfolios, over the course of the past two years, bookies have reaped the rewards of adding more events, more market types and investing in higher quality, faster data.
In markets like Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda, we are seeing a huge shift in customer activity from pre-match to in-play betting. While Kenya (40% pre-match, 60% in-play) hasn’t quite tipped the scales, both South Africa (60:40) and Nigeria (60:40) show that the demand is growing rapidly.
Unlike the highly competitive and price sensitive pre-match space, African operators are exploiting their in-play offering to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Football is the principal sport but creating a dedicated in-play betting destination is proven to facilitate cross-selling into other in-play sports and markets. Keeping customers on-site means better recycling of funds and subsequently increased turnover.
After being exposed to a more engaging product, African punters are gradually changing their betting habits. While massive, often upwards of 10-leg, accumulators across many different leagues are still the bread and butter for most East and West African bookies, growing interest in individual events via in-play will provide a valuable indicator of the product’s growing success during the World Cup.
The same logic applies to BetBuilder, a product we’re launching with two major African bookmakers including Nigerian powerhouse Nairabet in the coming weeks. By allowing a multiple to be placed on events occurring within a single game, it appeals to the African customer base with a penchant for an accumulator, while driving up turnover and margin on individual games like no other pre-match product.
Speaking on a panel at the London Affiliate Conference earlier this year, Nairabet CEO Akin Alabi, described the impact the product will have on its strategy: “Since we launched Nairabet, we have offered betting on two FIFA World Cups and it has presented a challenge each time. Our customers like to place big accumulators across 10-20 games in order to win big. But with only 64 games across a four-week period, the World Cup does not offer up the opportunity to make these bets.
“However, this year we will be introducing BetBuilder to our site which will enable customers to combine multiple pre-match markets types within the same game, so when Nigeria are in the World Cup final vs whoever, our customers will be able to bet on who will win, who will score and how, how many corners, who will get carded and so on. We are expecting our customer base to love these markets.”
Nigeria’s Moment in the Spotlight
Indeed, of the African teams represented at the World Cup, Nigeria is by far the most important when it comes to sports betting. The size of its population, a fanatical interest in football and easy access to live games has created a competitive and innovative betting sector meeting the demands of over 60 million punters.
Like any flagship event, the World Cup will bring huge numbers of new customers onto Nigeria’s betting sites this summer. The key challenge for operators will be retention, and the likes of Nairabet, Bet9ja and Merrybet have all raised the stakes in the fight for market share in recent months, with investment into in-play product a common feature of each firm’s strategy.
As a supplier of trading technology and outsourced pricing across all major sports, Betgenius is playing a crucial role in this burgeoning market. Without a partner who understands the nuances of each African market and who can provide robust, customisable trading solutions, local operators risk losing out on the in-play boom.
Despite retail’s dominance, online in-play betting is the key to growth across Africa and 2018 is the year this trend will accelerate.
With outright odds of about 250-1, the Super Eagles are unlikely to be the first African team to lift the World Cup in July. But with the right in-play product in place, the region’s bookmakers should all be winners.
Will Westcott – Business Development Manager – Betgenius