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John Haddock signs up for Nigerian Bonanza

UK betting veteran, and former Betfred Managing Director, John Haddock has reappeared in a new post, as the MD for Nigerian land-based and mobile betting operation BonanzaWin.

The news is the latest sign of the increased interest being shown in the betting markets of Africa, according to the company’s Founder and Chief Executive Sebastian Hybbinette, who says that Haddock joined the company recently and will be based in Lagos.

BonanzaWin is a relatively new entrant in the Nigerian market, with the company opening its first shop in the Lagos region in May 2016, and Hybbinette states that there’s an “ambitious growth programme” to challenge the market leaders in Nigeria.

Many of the leading online names in Nigeria also run substantial betting shop businesses, including leading names such as Bet9ja, Nairabet and Merrybet, which all lead the way with their mobile-focused omni-channel operations.

Hybbinette says BonanzaWin’s focus will be first on the land-based proposition, although the company also has an online proposition up and running: “Our focus is on the retail side of the business, the land-based side, and our rate of expansion is over two shops per week on average.”

Alongside Haddock, BonanzaWin already has a team in place which is fully conversant with the needs of the Nigerian market, Hybbinette believes this is about more than just simply knowing about how the market operates in any given territory.

The Nigerian market is complicated by a sometimes confused licensing regime, with each state acting as the regulator. BonanzaWin is already regulated by the state of Lagos and Hybbinette says he hopes to be adding licenses from two more states in the year ahead.

“Local market knowledge (is important), but not in the traditional meaning of the phrase,” he says.

“To succeed in Nigeria you need a detailed understanding of the operational requirements in each state, city and municipality. The requirements will range from the supply of electricity to engagement with local communities. Having this detailed knowledge and understanding allows for the creation of a solid foundation from which to operate.”

While the land-based betting market in Nigeria has a degree of heritage, the online side of the market is much more nascent, according to 2016 data from the World Bank, internet users per 100 of the population is a mere 28. However, mobile usage per 100 of population is at 82.

“Omni-channel will definitely have a role to play but it is still early days for the Nigerian internet consumer,” says Hybbinette. “While mobile is not the biggest channel for internet usage in Nigeria as a whole, we are mobile-first when it comes to our online betting strategy.”

Further expansion is likely also on the cards, both in Nigeria and, depending on developing regulatory situations, elsewhere in west Africa. Specifically, Haddock will oversee the opening of around 300 shops this year in Nigeria and further afield, and Hybbinette suggests the company has more plans.

“BonanzaWin was founded to create the best betting company in Africa,” he says. “By best we mean sizeable, innovative and delivering a standout product and service offering for our customers, ensuring we are always the first choice brand.”

But he is still keen to point to the sheer scale of the Nigerian market compared to elsewhere. Sources suggest the Nigerian market overall has gross gaming revenues in the region of between $800m and $1bn and is believed to be growing in double digits.

 “Our plans include a number of other countries on the continent, at varying stages of preparation, whilst keeping in mind that Nigeria alone represents around 50 percent of West Africa and 20 percent of the entire Sub-Saharan Africa.”

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