Merchants now have new ways to sell their goods and services thanks to the rise of mobile money services. One of these is the rapidly expanding online sports betting industry, which has swept across a number of African countries.
Fast internet coverage has also aided the expansion. Even in rural locations, customers may now easily access online sports betting services. Online sports betting and other kinds of gambling are exploding in countries like Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Tanzania.
Online sports betting on major European soccer leagues as well as local and national teams has grown into a multibillion-dollar business. Many of these bets are made on mobile phones, according to surveys, which suggest that mobile platforms are fast becoming the favored method of gambling.
By 2018, the combined gambling industries in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa are expected to be valued at USD$37 billion. According to a research in 2017, an estimated 2 million Kenyans participate in online sports betting.
One of the unexpected effects of the rise of mobile money services, which grew out of a push for financial inclusion, is the spread of online sports betting. Mobile phone platforms have been touted as a way to boosting financial inclusion across the continent since 2014. However, none of these scenarios were ever planned for. However, because most grownup Africans are unbanked, financial inclusion continues to be a priority.
Governments, on the other hand, are been overdue to recognize the gravity of the current problem.
Africans who favor mobile-based online sports betting will remind you how beneficial it has been to the continent. They mention a variety of gambling advantages, including improved job possibilities, easy income for low earners, government revenue, and overall economic improvement.
What they don’t say is that betting has a disastrous effect on many of those who partake in it, with more than half of those under 35.
As Africa has the world’s youngest population, this is particularly troublesome. Between 15 and 35 years old, there are about 420 million Africans. Unemployment is also at an all-time high. Unemployment affects around 35% of Africa’s youth. Only one in every six African teenagers works for a living.
Sports, which are a huge obsession on the continent, might readily entice these jobless and underemployed adolescents. And it looks that gambling can help people get out of poverty.
It’s simple to see why the value proposition of online sports betting is so popular with younger people in this context, considering that bets as small as USD$1 may result in a gain of USD$500.
In Nigeria, 60 million individuals between the ages of 18 and 40 wager up to $5 million every day on sports. The bulk of the players are jobless or underemployed young individuals who wager an average of $8.40 each day.
Drawbacks of online sports betting.
The majority of people who engaged in online betting did so despite the obvious risks, according to the Kenya research.
One of the risks is that low-income young people frequently borrow money to gamble. This traps them in a never-ending debt cycle. Increasing debt levels exacerbate an already terrible situation: 40% of Africans survive on less than $1.90 per day.
Despite the devastating consequences of online sports betting via mobile phone networks, it has become an unbearable addiction across Africa. This is concerning, as betting has been identified as a form of a gambling problem.
Financial inclusion, or the idea that individuals and companies should have access to banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions, was hailed as the long-awaited catalyst for Africa’s economic progress two decades earlier.
People on low incomes, many of whom reside in economically unstable and conflict-affected nations, may now access banking services thanks to cellular phone technology. And the availability of inexpensive mobile phones, along with a youthful and mobile-literate population, has resulted in a remarkable development of mobile money services in nations with low bank usage.
While this has benefited economies throughout the African continent, it has had unfavorable consequences for the needy. Financial inclusion is still endorsed by international organizations, governments, central banks, and private-sector actors, thus these risks are being overlooked. It is also mentioned in seven of the United Nations’ seventeen Sustainable Development Goals.
Governments must recognize that, while financial inclusion via mobile money has largely been beneficial, there have been some drawbacks. In Africa, the exponential expansion of mobile phones has resulted in an increase in betting popularity and gambling addiction.
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