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Exploring the thriving landscape of online gambling in Africa

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Lets Talk Gambling Tom Smallwood ESA Gaming

Talk Gambling Founder & CEO Ross Timmins spoke with ESA Gaming’s Head of Marketing, Thomas Smallwood about the growing opportunities for the online gambling industry in Africa.

What insights can you provide into the potential of online gambling in Africa, and what key factors do you believe are driving the rapid growth on the continent?

The online gambling landscape in Africa is witnessing significant growth, driven by a combination of factors. Beyond South Africa, the expansion of regulatory frameworks and rapidly advancing mobile technologies have played pivotal roles. Notably, local markets are evolving swiftly, evidenced not only by established brands like 888 and Hollywoodbets making forays into regulated markets but also by the emergence of local software suppliers. This trend signifies a robust development originating from within the continent itself.

In contrast to the anticipated growth of iGaming in the United States, which is currently regulated in only six states, Africa has become a focal point for attention from both suppliers and operators. The region, along with Latin America, has garnered considerable interest, presenting a promising landscape for the online gambling industry. It is poised to be a major focus for us as we extend our reach in both these regions in the coming months.

With ESA Gaming currently in the midst of its inaugural slots rollout, what kind of player reactions are you expecting in the African region?

Anticipating player reactions in the diverse African region is an intriguing prospect. Given the vastness of the continent and its rich tapestry of cultures, tastes, and gaming traditions, we expect a varied response. Notably, sports betting holds immense sway in many parts of Africa, making our simple sports-based Mine games well-positioned for success.

In contrast to much of Europe, where traditional casino games dominate, our research suggests that these may not reach the same heights in certain markets in Africa. Instead, crash games, known for fostering high player loyalty, are expected to enjoy wider popularity. South Africa, with its longer history of casino gaming and established land-based sector, has provided an entry point for slots and table games to gain widespread popularity.

As part of our strategy, we plan to introduce eight to ten slots to our portfolio, catering to the diverse tastes of players. This lineup not only includes classic themes to contribute to a well-balanced catalogue but also features innovative concepts and custom mechanics. Recognising the significance of non-traditional content, we have captivating titles lined up for our 2024 roadmap, ensuring that we are well-equipped to meet the varied player preferences across the region.

How do you anticipate ESA’s video slots enhancing the existing lightweight EasySwipe™ portfolio in the Africa?

Our expansion into video slots aims to elevate our existing lightweight EasySwipe™ portfolio, further diversifying our overall offering, whilst expanding the range of content we can provide our partners with. Our EasySwipe™ suite boasts an array of games, encompassing traditional table games, simple slots, crash-style content, and the immensely popular Mine game series. Crafted with mobile-first design, these games seamlessly integrate into sportsbooks, providing super-fast performance and open sessions for play that complements the sports betting experience.

The proven cross-selling capacity of our EasySwipe™ suite has been instrumental in helping sportsbooks enhance engagement and boost revenue. During major sporting tournaments like the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations, our sport-themed titles such as Goal Mine and Goal Mine World Edition serve as catalysts, smoothly transitioning traditional sports bettors to the casino realm.

We are optimistic that our simple slots like Fruitz & Spinz, FruitStaxx, or Egyptian Reels, designed for easy mobile gameplay, along with our new high-performing video slots featuring custom mechanics, will cater to a broad spectrum of player preferences. This strategic approach acknowledges the evolving tastes in the market, ensuring that our offerings resonate with the evolving dynamics of the African gaming landscape.

Which specific markets is the company strategically focusing on in the region?

Our strategic focus in Africa is multi-faceted, with a targeted approach to key markets. Notably, South Africa holds a prominent position in our strategy, where we aim to establish a strong presence, having secured deals with well-established local companies such as Kiron Interactive and Hollywoodbets. Recognising South Africa as one of the more mature markets, our endeavours here align with our commitment to fostering growth in established markets.

However, our vision extends beyond South Africa, as we have cultivated partnerships with various distribution channels across the continent. We’re interested in any well-run market across Africa, leveraging our network of distribution partners to reach diverse player demographics.

The unique strength of our content lies in its ability to seamlessly cross-sell from sportsbook to casino. This strategic advantage positions us to capitalise on emerging opportunities in markets where the convergence of sports betting and casino is increasingly prevalent.

Looking ahead, what are the primary goals for ESA Gaming in terms of enhancing its presence in African markets?

We remain committed to navigating the African markets with tailored strategies aimed at meeting diverse needs. Our overarching goals are rooted in attentiveness to individual market nuances, a commitment to localisation wherever feasible, and the strategic alignment with the right industry partners.

As we set our sights on local expansion, our key objectives include ensuring that our Business Development and Account Management teams actively engage with clients. This involves not only facilitating wide game distribution but also providing crucial support to local operators. By assisting them in understanding the optimal content and promotional strategies for their audience, we aim to foster enduring partnerships. Essentially, our approach hinges on adaptability and dedication, traits essential for any successful market growth, particularly in a region as diverse as Africa.

Hi, I'm Ross, founder of Talk Gambling. I've operated within the gambling industry for several years, primarily within the affiliate sector. I originally focused on design and user experience but in recent years I've pursued a passion for SEO, digital marketing and creating great content. Please feel free to get in touch and say hello!

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