FSI at INTERGAMINGi - Spotlight On Africa

 Could you describe the work you undertake in Africa?

At ICE London 2019, where we made the world premiere of our original Fantasy Sportsbook conceptFSI’s Fixed-Odds-Fantasy, we had the pleasure to meet the team of Betting Entertainment Technologies (BET). BET are the leading iGaming and betting software provider in South Africa, and their experienced team immediately realised the potential of Fixed-Odds-Fantasy as a unique fantasy betting offering for the African market; they proceeded to promote our team-based Fantasy Odds product to be integrated and offered by South Africa’s most popular betting operator, Hollywoodbets.

Hollywoodbets are a top-tier operator in South Africa with strong retail presence and a gaming website with world-wide reach. The company offers local and international horse racing betting, an extensive range of sports betting from soccer, rugby, cricket and golf to American sports, as well as several international Lucky Numbers lotteries.

FSI provides an innovative fantasy sports betting offering for Hollywoodbet’s audience, which combines the gaming and team management aspect of fantasy sports with standard sportsbook, using FSI’s exclusive fantasy odds feed. Hollywoodbets has launched our offering for the English Premier League, under the product name “Fantasy League Betting”, doing an amazing work on the branding, audience education and marketing front. The FSI team is in constant contact with Hollywoodbets’ people, providing support and of course the fantasy odds for every Gameweek. Overall, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce fantasy sports and performance wagering to the emerging but thriving African market through this collaboration. Our constructive partnership with BET and Hollywoodbets is a coordinated, collective effort to evolve gaming and betting standards in Africa, by enriching the gaming habits of the South African audience

What do you see are the major challenges within the African market?

The African audience is enthusiastic, and gambling is on the rise: Price Waterhouse Cooper identified South Africa, among others, as the regions with the largest and fastest local growing markets for 2014-2018. According to the government of South Africa, over 50% of South African adults engage in sports betting routinely. On the sports front, the most popular sports betting events in the continent take place over horse racing and football, while on the regulatory front, only 7 of the 55 countries of Africa prohibit betting. The main challenge right now lies with technology, specifically internet connection and the slow networks speeds, which result to mobile data loss and lack of coverage. For 2019, the highest internet speed was recorded in South Africa at 8.4 Mbps, while the rest of the regions were struggling with speeds ranging between 7 and 3 Mbps at worst. Internet access costs have actually dropped over the past year according to the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), but progress on this front is rather slow to bridge the existing digital gap between low-income and middle-income countries globally.

      How can such difficulties be overcome?

Certainly, the massive expansion of betting and the increased audience engagement, have promoted and sped up the efforts to overcome technological challenges. Furthermore, advances in technology and communications, have allowed for both increased access to online betting and ability for communication. Retail betting shops provide internet access, becoming significant betting and social hubs – a punters’ meeting place. Mobi-sites and mobile systems have evolved to a degree that companies are able to reach their audience and attract new users through much lighter apps and services, allowing punters to place bets and monitor their progress on mobile. Through our collaboration and feedback from Hollywoodbets, we have proceeded to adjust our offering accordingly, to fit the local network and mobile data standards.


          How do you assess the regulatory picture in the various countries right now and what lessons can be learned from the difficulties in Kenya?


Kenya’s recent unfortunate example confirmed the need for a realistic approach, as the prohibitive taxation aiming at the elimination of gambling only led to revenue decrease and the biggest operators leaving the market, while bettors were left exposed, playing with unlicensed companies.

These difficulties actually impacted us as well, driving away prospects of ours, but following the legislative amendments we have renewed our talks to enter the region.

It is positive that regulatory authorities have learned from past experience and decided to accept and regulate the popularity of gambling in the continent, considering the business and economic growth it brings. This is still work in progress, though – regulatory environment in South Africa is currently fragmented and convoluted, but this is typical of other markets as well. According to our experience, it helps to have a local partner - BET have helped us greatly to navigate through local regulatory requirements.


Where do you see growth opportunities for suppliers and how are these identified?


There are growth opportunities for suppliers throughout Africa. The rich history of betting in the continent, the population’s affinity for sports – and especially soccer/football - have led to an increasing number of local betting operators, both online and in retail. African punters are higher risk-takers and increased engagement has created a quite educated audience, giving suppliers the opportunity to offer a diverse portfolio. The point is to develop engaging products with good localization potential and viable marketing planning options.


Finally, what are your future hopes and wishes in terms of igaming in Africa?


We have had very positive feedback from our partners, and strong interest from other operators across Africa so far, showing that there is room for even niche offerings to boom.

From our experience so far with Hollywoodbets, we are happy to witness elevated user engagement and customer retention in South Africa. Early data show that the iGaming and betting industry in the region is starting to become more focused in terms of regulation, while sports betting is a favourite and social pastime. With the appropriate protective, yet business-intuitive regulatory framework in place and the natural affinity of the African audience for sports, we feel that Africa has already begun to fulfill its potential as one of the next big iGaming markets.

You can read the Spotlight on Africa Feature on INTERGAMINGi digital issue No. 4 of 2020.

Special thanks to Managing Editor Matthew Chambers, Sales Executive Andrea Murphy and the rest of the INTERGAMINGi team!

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