Valentyn Kyrylenko: Nigeria passes key criteria test for Betinvest

Having passed the five criteria against which it assesses new target markets, Betinvest is ready to make its move in Nigeria – by far Africa’s most populous country.

However, while upwards of $5 million is spent on sports betting each day, the market is still under-prepared on the online side – only 46 per cent are mobile internet users despite recent growth – and subject to a discouraging national/regional regulatory overlap.

So why now for Betinvest? How is the platform set up for success in Nigeria? The firm’s VP of Business Development Valentyn Kyrylenko tells us more.

SBC: Why has Betinvest turned to Nigeria for the next phase of its global expansion?

VK: Africa is one of the most attractive emerging markets thanks to the continent’s sizeable population of sports fans. As a provider of sports betting solutions, we are able to meet their demand for high-quality entertainment content with solutions that are well suited to their interest in sport. We’re going to be driving this region forward with our advanced products.  

We have five key criteria against which we assess new regions and countries. These are: the country’s economic growth and potential; whether people have access to the internet and from which devices they use it; how well our products meet the market’s expectations; what regulations are in place for the gambling industry; and whether there is demand for our products from the nation’s sports fans. These are our main considerations when we are deciding whether to enter a new market.

As for Nigeria itself, this country has one of the biggest economies of the continent as a result of its oil export revenues. It’s also considered to be an important part of the world’s economy.

The sports betting market in Nigeria is estimated to be worth $2 billion. The rise of football culture, and more widespread use of mobile phones and the internet have had a positive effect on the industry’s growth. 

The latest research showed that 50% of the Nigerian population has access to the internet and 46% of the population are mobile internet users. Year on year, these figures are continuing to grow, and internet connection speeds are ever-increasing.

SBC: Is there any concerns from your side over the country’s laws for sports betting, particularly a lack of regulation on the online side?

VK: Due to the poor internet coverage across Africa, the continent is best suited to land-based betting services. Moreover, the countries’ regulatory frameworks are less prepared for the regulation of online services. 

If we go back to talking about Nigeria specifically, the industry is regulated at two levels – national and regional (in Lagos and Edo). Remote gambling is still unregulated. Under a Lagos license, online lotteries are regulated and online gambling is legal but not regulated.

The overlap between the regulations at the state and federal levels is an issue since operators sometimes end up being taxed twice. This discourages new operators and future investors from entering the market. Furthermore, there is still a notable preference for local domains (ending .ng), which is something that operators who are considering starting a business in this region need to take into account.

The most appealing city when it comes to launching a gambling business in Nigeria is Lagos, thanks to its economy and more affluent population.

SBC: What has your research told you about player betting habits in Nigeria?

VK: In Nigeria, betting is becoming more and more popular among the younger, “digital” generation and the middle class, contradicting the stereotype that the industry only attracts lower-income earners. Most bets are placed in betting shops, though an increasing number of customers are placing bets online.

 As well as being a form of entertainment, for those in Nigeria and in Africa as a whole, this industry is also about making (and losing) money.

SBC: And finally, what should be top of the checklist for a Nigeria facing operator selecting its sportsbook supplier?

VK: Above all, they need to be sure that they have a reliable partner, paying particular attention to their integrity, reputation, market presence and expertise in the betting business. Secondly, they need to consider the product itself – the software that the provider is offering. 

It needs to have all the features that are specifically required in Nigeria: speed, support for mobile, a good UI/UX design and relevant payment methods. In addition, it’s important that operators get a fully functional back office, from which they can manage the software and use tools to attract new players and retain existing ones. 

With this in mind, our platform includes 4 special bonuses (Sign-up Bonus, nth Deposit Bonus, Cashback Bonus, Promocode Bonus) as well as a custom bonus creation/management feature, a powerful CRM system, a flexible affiliate scheme and an agent management system.

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