Africa is Entering an Era of Economic Growth
Even as South Africa continues to make it difficult for its citizens to gamble at a casino online, Africa is emerging as the next great area for the expansion of online casinos and online gaming. There are several pertinent reasons that this is so.
The African continent, as a single economic entity lags far behind other large areas of the world in the ownership of smartphones. This is about to be reversed. It may take a long time; perhaps, a couple of generations, for Africa to catch up to other large areas but there will certainly be a massive surge in smartphone ownership in Africa in the next twenty years.
Although twenty years is still a long time in the history of online casinos, it is a very short time in world history and the rise of an economically viable Africa will be one of the great financial stories of the upcoming decades.
When African nations emerged from colonialist rule, many embraced socialism or communism. These experiments failed in Africa as they have failed everywhere else and the movement in Africa is toward social democracy which, whilst it isn’t full blown capitalism, retains many of the best elements of capitalism.
These include upward mobility, a renewed sense that the future will be better than the past, self-determination, and widespread economic growth. Africa will suffer all the economic growing pains that all societies encountered on their way to affluence but the end result will still be widespread affluence on the continent when economic conditions are compared to the status quo ante.
A burgeoning middle and upper class always buys “things” that make life easier, better, or more enjoyable. In Africa this will include air conditioning and other machines that will make life more pleasant but will also entail great growth in the ownership of smartphones and other mobile devices. These are still seen as electronic gadgets by some but the convenience of having instant communication with loved ones and business associates alike will spur the purchase of smartphones.
In the world of online gaming, smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices have overtaken desktop and laptop computers as the means to playing online casino games. In the most developed countries, mobile gaming is already number one. The convenience of mobile for gaming is now matched by excellent graphics, animation, and sound.
So, Africans will buy smartphones and other mobile devices for many reasons and will use them to gamble online.
Regulation of Online Casinos
There are now many African jurisdictions that either allow online gambling as a matter of law or don’t have any legislation on the subject. These countries will grow as places for online gaming. Tax authorities will learn how to reap the benefit of taxing winnings from online gaming and, theoretically, everyone will be happy: the players, the casino operators, and the governments which will reap necessary funds to run their many programmes.
Growth of Online Casinos
One of the reasons South Africa continues to make online gambling so difficult and tries to seize winnings is that the country has many land based casinos. The government believes that it is easier to regulate and tax land based casinos and these casinos, which have invested vast sums building structures that are inflexible and cannot be moved or easily altered, lobby incessantly against online casinos.
Land based casinos attract tourists. The benefits to local and the national economy are easy to see: hotels, restaurants, tourism generally, shows, conventions and conferences, general employment, and so on. These are observable benefits of land based casinos. The benefits of online casinos are more difficult to see. Nevertheless, in many locales, the synergy between online and land based casinos has finally been learnt and online casinos are being embraced, regulated, and taxed.
As more and more Africans enter the middle class, they will have more time to spend on entertainment. Online gaming should always be considered a form of entertainment. This aspect of gaming should be emphasized more often than it is because it would help ease the misgivings political, religious, and social leaders have about gambling generally. If it is merely an innocent pastime, it is far more acceptable than if it is marketed as a get rich quick scheme.
Not a Monolith
Africa is certainly not a monolithic giant. There are 57 countries on the continent, many ethnic groups, and many local customs. Tastes run the full gamut in dress, cuisine, religion and religiosity, and world outlook. As a result, land based casinos tend to exemplify the local area where they are built. In contrast, online casinos can offer different gaming to different populations. This is the idea of “skins” which give local “colour” to an online casino even when, underneath the skin, it is the same or very similar to another casino.
This gives online casinos a lot more flexibility than land based casinos enjoy.
Another aspect of the evolution of land based casinos is the concept of the Integrated Resort. This is a multi-faceted tourist and convention center that caters to gamblers, families, conventioneers, shoppers, sports enthusiasts, theater and show time goers, and more.
As the Integrated Resort concept takes hold, it will cost far more to build an Integrated Resort than it costs to set up another online casino. This will allow online casinos to offer more games and a higher return to player rate. All a local tax authority needs is the ability to monitor the casinos and collect its fair share of taxes.
This may also be the next growth area in casino gaming. The United States is set to begin widespread sports betting. Africa may also become a haven for sports betting because it is not nearly as widespread in Africa as it is in Europe
Africa is set to ride the wave of economic growth with accelerated gambling both at land based casinos and at online casinos. The latter still lack regulations in many areas but they are sure to come sooner rather than later.