We’ve seen many betting and gaming companies look to expand their international footprint in recent years, with a number turning their attention towards the African market. One such company which is continuing to expand its presence within the region is BetGames.
For James Everett, VP Africa at BetGames, Africa has always been a strong-performing region for BetGames. But with the region expected to boom in the coming years, the company plans to double down its efforts and solidify its position as a leader within the African market.
In conversation with SBC News, Everett explained that there are two main reasons that made Africa a prime market for expansion: technological advancements and opportunities for cross-selling.
He began: “Two key reasons come to mind. The first is that fairly recently, Africa was listed by the Financial Times as being one of the fastest-growing continents in the world in terms of mobile and internet infrastructure. It is a big gaming continent already and this is only going to get bigger. That’s part of the reason we’re seeing so many international platforms looking to expand into the region.
“Another reason is that BetGames, as a product in and of itself, is a key tool for cross-selling between sports and casino. At the moment, certainly outside of Africa, sports betting is still a major piece of the pie. As far as betting revenue and turnover is concerned, casino is now becoming a much bigger player.
“BetGames is positioned quite nicely in the middle of that cross-over between sports betting and casino as a fixed odds betting concept for our players.
“We see a lot of our partners using BetGames as a cross selling tool between sports betting and casino. I think that we’ve got a niche where we’ve positioned ourselves in that way and a lot of our partners take advantage of that.”
Countries such as South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria have all become popular market-entry choices for operators and suppliers alike. For BetGames, it is South Africa that has proven to be a great performing market for the provider.
A decade worth of boots-on-the-ground knowledge has not only enabled the company to gain extensive knowledge of player demands, but has also provided deep insights into some of the regulatory intricacies that are in place across South Africa.
Everett continued: “Some forecasts suggest the South African market is expected to grow by around 25% in the next 10 years so we’ll no doubt see more big-name operators enter the market.”
This isn’t the only market on BetGames’ agenda, however, with the company already devising plans to make its presence known in other markets.
He said: “Ethiopia is a market that we haven’t really made inroads into yet, but it’s definitely high on our priority list. Mozambique always performs really well for us, as does the SADC region. These are definitely some key markets for us that we’re eyeing up.
“The Francophone region is now becoming more and more prominent in discussions. There isn’t much online gambling penetration in the region yet, but land-based casinos are increasingly popular. There’s obviously still a question around taxes that a lot of these regions or governments start to implement as soon as they see a lot of revenue being generated from the bidding industry.
“Countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique have all implemented withholding taxes which are obviously eating into revenues. But I do think that these are just teething problems that the African region as a whole is facing.
“Ghana still remains one of our biggest markets on the continent, but frustratingly, they’ve just implemented a withholding tax, which obviously dented quite a lot of revenue generated out of the region, but they’re still very much one of the main protagonists in Western Africa.”
It’s all about the branding
As part of its strategy to solidify its presence within the African market, BetGames recently extended its partnership with Betway Africa – an operator that has significant exposure across the continent.
There is one key difference with this partnership: it now covers branded content.
When quizzed on whether punters across Africa have shown a penchant for any particular type of content, Everett explained that there was no stand-out ‘type’ of branded game that players preferred. He did note, however, that the inclusion of operator branding did make players feel somewhat more confident in placing a bet.
He said: “I don’t think players really have an affinity for specific branded content. But I think it adds a lot of credibility when an operator puts their name to a particular game. That is certainly what Betway has done – their branding and marketing is second to none. They’ve partnered up with major affiliates and high profile sportspeople.
“You can’t sit in front of a TV in South Africa without seeing the Betway branding. They are a really great brand to work with.
“Their financial results have shown their exponential growth across Africa in recent years – so being able to partner with a big name such as Betway, and to have that fantastic working relationship, is great.”
When testing out what games players enjoy, BetGames has found that many have shown an interest in fixed-odds games and numbers-based products.
“Bettors tend to attribute ancestral value onto specific numbers and they’re very superstitious when it comes to these types of games. That’s where a lot of games work really well, especially across Southern Africa. Game shows also do really well here,” Everett said.
“We partnered with Entain in Europe, and our games are performing really well here. But Africa is a completely different market with its own intricacies. In Europe, casino tends to be really popular but in Africa, players tend to prefer sports betting.
“At BetGames, we have that perfect cross-selling tool. We’re performing incredibly well in South Africa as players because we’re offering the fixed odds outcomes across our products that you get with casino-type games.”
Talk soon turned towards the growing popularity of crash games. As seen by the growth of the Aviator game, crash games have boomed in recent years and this growth is showing no sign of slowing down.
So it should come as no surprise that BetGames has plans to get in on the action and launch its own crash game, Skyward.
Everett commented: “As we’ve seen games such as Aviator increase in popularity, we thought we needed to get in on the action and develop our own crash game. There is clearly a demand in the market for this type of product.
“We’ve obviously had a lot of success with our existing games, but we need to consider the changes in player preferences – the market is clearly moving towards simplistic, instant games that are low-stake / high reward.
“Players only want to place small bets but be in the chance to win big. Crash games tick a lot of those boxes, so that’s why now has been the right time for us to develop Skyward.”
The VP Africa believes that this growth can be attributed to the low data requirements of these types of games, meaning players can gamble using very little mobile data.
By reducing the amount of data that these games require, Everett believes that it makes crash games considerably more accessible than other betting verticals.
He continued: “It’s such a simple game that is easy to understand and is very engaging. It also doesn’t require much data so that also makes it more accessible for players. For those reasons alone, that’s why I think every single operator should be looking at crash games at the moment.
“We are in the unique position that we have the flexibility to offer branded solutions for our Skyward game. We have already signed a few deals to offer this type of content, with some of our partners already requesting their logos on Skyward.
“We’re in the process of developing some really cool promotional tools that will be offered during phase two and phase three of the game going live, so keep your eyes out for those.”
Crash games aren’t the only new products that BetGames has in the pipeline for this year. The next product to join the portfolio is Roulette.
Roulette has long been a firm favourite in any casino operator’s lobby. But BetGames hopes to change the game by integrating Roulette into its iFrame solution, meaning players don’t have to search multiple different casino operators for their favourite games.
But how do you bring something new to the table, when a game is already a classic?
Everett continued: “I think that we will innovate the player experiences, and our new Roulette game will become part of the BetGames iFrame. It will almost be like a package deal where you will get BetGames-specific products that offer that fixed odds outcome that players seem to enjoy.
“Now, players won’t have to leave our lobby to go to a different casino lobby just to find a roulette game that they enjoy. Essentially what we’re doing is enclosing and ring fencing our players, whilst also creating more exciting products to attract new players to our iFrame where they will have the opportunity to play fixed odd outcomes games, crash games, roulette and more.”
Speaking of classics, the next product to be added to the BetGames portfolio is a football-themed game, Lucky Kicks.
By launching a game which is centred around football, the games provider hopes to tap into the sport’s global fanbase – and more particularly, create an engaging game that resonates with football fans across Africa.
Everett noted: “As everyone knows, football is the biggest sport on the continent. It’s the biggest sport on the planet, and I think it always will be. By launching a football -themed game, we want to encapsulate the players’ demand for this type of product with what we know works in the market which is instant, quick turnaround games where players have the option of betting on outcomes that have high-to-low risk.
“Again, this is giving players the option of low stake, high return games. Everyone loves soccer in Africa so it’s certainly a game that we’ve tried to conceptualise. What we’ve seen so far is that this is a game which is really going to take the market by storm.
“Again, it’s a case of ring fencing our games with our iFrame, with our products all under one roof. It’s really a one-stop-shop that we’re creating here. Players want quick content that doesn’t require waiting around for a long time. That is possibly why sports like horse racing are struggling – because you have to wait a long time between races. It lessens the entertainment factor.
“Instant win games are the way forward when you’re looking to cater to the modern day player. Theming the game around soccer for the African market really was the right decision for us, and once this goes live, we’ll definitely see this take off.”