HEADER: Honoré Gaming: Creating the next boom in the African market

Honoré Gaming: Creating the next boom in the African market

As a vast continent with a large, young and sports enthused population, it is unsurprising that Africa poses great potential as an emerging betting market with a strong growth rate, albeit with some local hurdles in areas of regulation and payments in particular. SBC News Honoré Gaming: Creating the next boom in the African market

Discussing his experience and providing insights on the African betting industry with SBC Leaders, Honoré Gaming’s CEO, Cyril Casanova, highlighted the ‘strong potential’ but also challenges present in this ‘underestimated’ market. 

SBC – Can you tell us about Honoré Gaming and which markets are your core focus?

Cyril Casanova: Honoré Gaming is a well-established brand with a strong presence in French-speaking African countries, in particular nations where French horse racing is very popular. 

Historically, our footprint has been in French speaking Africa and we are in a very strong position there. During the last two years, we have been focused on adjusting our platform to be competitive and adapted to English-speaking markets. 

We entered Nigeria last year and have deployments scheduled in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and will launch in South Africa this year once we receive certification.

SBC – What makes African betting markets unique when compared with other emerging sectors? 

CC: The underlying growth that these markets represent sets them apart, as well as a young population who are open to betting as a form of entertainment. We are talking about markets where there are very few ways to entertain. 

Betting creates a lot of jobs, and so in Africa it is an industry that has a very different image to some other regional betting sectors. Also, there is a lot of passion for soccer in many nations, so betting shops provide an opportunity to watch matches whilst providing added entertainment.

We estimate that the underlying organic growth of the Sub-Saharan African industry stands at 20% per year, much more than the global sector as a whole. Overall, Africa has strong potential and is underestimated – as is the case with many other industries on the continent. The European way of considering things does not always apply, as there are some African countries which are richer than Latam nations. 

SBC – What challenges in particular have you encountered in African markets that set them apart from others?

CC: By far the biggest constraint is the lack of regulation. For example, if a bookmaker receives the wrong information from a data feeder in the UK or France and offers the wrong odds on a match, there are ways for the bookmaker to protect themselves legally. This isn’t so much the case in some African markets. 

For B2B providers, risk management must be reliable otherwise you are putting your clients in a tricky situation. When it comes to sports betting, you have to adopt a very strict risk management policy based on algorithms and identify ways to limit exposure, otherwise operators are at risk of losing a lot of value.

From a technical point of view, another challenge is integration of payments and access to API information. This requires a lot of insistence for the right documentation and is often a long process. Overall, Africa is an exciting market with a lot of opportunities, but it is also quite challenging. 

SBC – Which countries have the most potential in terms of expansion for international operators?

CC: The markets with the most potential are the biggest countries – Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa, which have the most advanced regulation. In general, the more these markets are regulated the more operators and investors can consider them as a way to boost their growth. 

Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania have strong potential, as does Senegal and other French speaking newcomers to the regulatory process.

We could see a lot of M&A over the next three to five years with some major European and American players which would benefit from increased regulation, although there is a risk with regards to currency more so than Europe and the US. 

If we can combine the expertise of the leading betting companies on digital marketing and the online business in Africa, this could create another boom and accelerate growth. 

SBC – Do you believe that the technological proficiency of African markets and bettors is underestimated? Can the same be said of other emerging markets?

CC: A common challenge is the size of the average bet slip, in some cases you are looking at 40 or 50 cents per ticket in comparison to say €12 in France. You have to manage a huge amount of transactions across a platform because of this.

Often it depends on who you are working with. Local payments providers do have some shortcomings in comparison to major international firms – you are not working with Visa or Stripe, you are dealing mainly with local monopolies. 

However, platforms in some countries such as Nigeria and Kenya are becoming leaders in the continent. From a tech point of view these are very good quality and even if the CRM and bots are less developed than in Europe or North America are still very impressive.

SBC – How important is it for operators to launch localised and tailored products across different African markets?

CC: It is important to consider patriotism, whilst you of course need to consider how many local languages there are. English, French and Portuguese are widely spoken as official languages, but there are so many local languages to address. 

A high level of customisation is needed if you want to penetrate multiple markets, covering policies, affiliation, products, languages and marketing. Ultimately, operators must understand that these markets are all very different, and they need to use varying approaches towards features, promotions and bonuses – there are many ways to attract, acquire and retain customers. 

There is absolutely a need to integrate a lot to be competitive and to create brand awareness and reinforce the seriousness of your product. Lastly, as addressed earlier, payment methods are almost always local. 

SBC – Football is the most popular betting product for African consumers, but are there any other sports catching attention?

CC: Football is by far the number one betting product, although horse racing is very popular in French-speaking Africa, in comparison to English-speaking nations such as Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania – with the exception of South Africa and neighbouring countries.

Outside football, you have emerging sports that are becoming more attractive, but still account for a very small proportion of activity – UFC, boxing and tennis are popular, as well as cricket and rugby, particularly in South Africa. 

People are very passionate about soccer, but actually don’t bet so much on the Africa Cup of Nations in comparison to the Euros and World Cup, or on local championships. This does present a key challenge and we are focusing on pricing these tournaments more, as this reinforces awareness that you are offering a local product. 

SBC – What are your opinions on the igaming market in Africa? Is there potential for further development here and cross selling with sports bettors?

CC: There are many opportunities with casino in Africa, although this is a matter of regulation. Many haven’t regulated yet, but we can see that for the countries that have legislated the vertical accounts for around 30% of betting activity. 

It is a great way to attract people and offer an online product in some countries where casinos are less developed. Casino will be the next boom in Africa once regulation is introduced.

SBC News Honoré Gaming: Creating the next boom in the African market

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