The Internet and gambling know no borders. So it’s not surprising that online gambling is emerging in Africa.
It’s hard to measure how much is happening with Internet gambling, but it has grown large enough to have its own event in Lagos, Nigeria. Clarion Events announced this week that it is staging a conference on the potential of gaming (as gambling is euphemistically called within the industry) on the African continent.
Curtis Roach, senior events producer at Clarion Events, said in an interview with VentureBeat that the company is holding its WrB Africa event in Lagos to explore just how big online gambling could become in the oil-rich region of Nigeria and its surrounding neighbors.
“The region is known for its troubles and government issues, but this market is in its growth stage,” Roach said. “Nigeria is a leader in this market, and it has a lot of investment dollars. Reforms have happened.”
“It’s hard to say on the size of the market,” he continued. “But we have some people doing research papers, and Nigeria is definitely the leader.”
The WrB Africa is the first-ever summit dedicated to exploring the opportunities in gambling in this region and encouraging a regulatory framework that will produce a thriving and sustainable gaming industry in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Targeting just about 150 to 200 people, the event is far smaller than Internet gambling events in Europe or the U.S.
The speaker lineup includes a keynote session from Lanre Gbajabiamila, CEO of the Lagos State Lottery Board (LSLB).
Other speakers include John Kamara, director of Global Gaming Africa; Tarimba Abbas, director general of the Tanzania Gaming Board; Edward Lalumbe, chief operating officer of the Gauteng Gambling Board; and Matthias Jacek Wojdyla, head of international affairs at FIFA.
Gbajabiamila is optimistic about the continued growth of gambling in Lagos and Nigeria, with expanding technology and the public’s appetite for sport among the driving forces.
“The Nigerian gaming industry is an evolving one and gradually expanding. More states and individuals are becoming more aware of the opportunities that exist in the industry in terms of entertainment, revenue and employment,” Gbajabiamila said in a statement.
Africa is definitely making gains with Internet access. A few days ago, the Africa Internet Group raised $327 million in funding from investors including Rocket Internet, French insurance company AXA, African telecom company MTN Group, and Goldman Sachs. The company’s valuation was more than $1.1 billion, making it Africa’s first unicorn, or startup valued at more than $1 billion.