Mobile Betting Increases Amongst Africa’s Millennials

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The accepted definition of the millennial generation is anyone born between 1981 and 1996. Also known as Generation Y, the group follows Generation X and is known for coming of age during the early years of the Internet era.

Although Millennials vary with changing geographic, socioeconomic and political regions, this characteristic of embracing new technology as part of life is universal. Now it’s being seen in the way the youth of Africa is taking to smartphone gambling, especially sports betting, like proverbial ducks to water.

The Mobile Revolution

The pace of the mobile revolution has far outstripped the preceding online revolution, and millennials have been quick to adopt the use of smartphones and apps to help with many aspects of everyday life. The fact that smartphones are so much cheaper than PCs means that many young adults in Africa now have access to sports betting sites and digital payment mechanisms, where they didn’t before.

Greater Connectivity

Satellite television services are now common across Africa, and sports matches are widely broadcast in public viewing areas. This effectively means that citizens in African countries, who would never have been able to watch major league events before, can now do so with ease. As watching the games have become more possible, the increase in fans – and thus bettors – has kept pace.

The Youth Bulge

Africa’s population is the youngest in the world; it is estimated that more than 60% of the continent is under the age of 25. Many of these 420+ million individuals are millennials, who are unemployed. The frustration and boredom that comes with not working, as well as the popularity of sports and the possibility of making money fast, have all contributed to the rise in betting activities.

Harnessing and Managing the Betting Surge

With the mobile revolution, increased connectivity and a young population, it’s not surprising that gambling has reached its current levels in Africa. A GeoPoll survey conducted in 2017 found that 54% of 17-to-35-year-olds in sub-Saharan Africa (2724 individuals in South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya) had engaged in sports betting.

Kenya has the greatest number of young bettors by far, with 74% of millennials reporting their engagement with bookmakers. The detrimental effects of gambling in this population are well documented, and include money laundering and gambling addiction, which lead to heightened anxiety and loneliness.

However, smartphones’ increasing ubiquity has led to many advances in sub-Saharan African youth. This think tank is where M-Pesa, Momconnect and Twiga Foods were developed to improve, respectively, the financial service, health and security and supply chain sectors – and there are plenty of other such innovators.

Besides smartphone technology also being a force for good, the gambling industry can be very beneficial to the economy of a country as it stimulated job creation and generates taxes. The issue facing African countries now is how to protect consumers, guard against problem betting and collect and use the tax revenues appropriately. Since such a large proportion of the population is millennials, this is particularly important when it comes to them.

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