Africa: The Race to Online, with Dolan Beuthin, CEO, BetMonsta

There is little doubt that the transformation to online for African gaming is picking up significant pace. However, as demand grows there are still a multitude of challenges that need to be overcome before the market can come near to its full potential.

We caught up with Dolan Beuthin, CEO of BetMonsta to hear his thoughts on what the next steps are on the path to iGaming success in this ever-promising region.

Africa is well known for its retail market but how will it cope going to more online? Is the market ready and what are some of the challenges in creating more of an online environment?

“Africa has always been a retail market, and while the rest of the world moved away from retail prominence, the Africa retail market has continued to grow.

The important differentiator is that players do not have the comfort of homes with TV’s, like the western world, as well as fibre connections at home with cheap data. Retail shops offer a fun haven away from the dreariness of home life with a very social element of betting with friends.

Having explained the above, the queues in the shops and literally standing room only, is helping the growth of online. The first retail outlets to take advantage of these queues came up with the concept of “book a bet” which enabled players to pre-book their bets on the website and then go to a shop to collect the bet slip.

Trust has always been a concern for players in Africa and the growth of mobile payments over retail banking is testament to this. Because of the growth of mobile payments, it has allowed online gaming to take advantage of a more socially accepted and trusted payment option which previously was dominated by cash exchanging hands.

While Africa has not suffered from a lack of mobile bandwidth due to under usage, it is not cheap, and most players purchase data bundles rather than a fixed monthly contract. Recently, operators are offering mobile bundles instead of bonuses to encourage players to try the online offering. COVID has accelerated this adaption.

The challenges are:

– Cost of data

– Users low-end handsets

– Limited Java script browsers, such as Opera Mini in Extreme data restriction mode

– Educating the user

– Data coverage

Many operators are tackling all or some of these points above. If you are not yet, you may be left behind in the race.

Online is increasing everywhere, and a strategy should be to manage customised promos to push up the online instead of the retail market.”

What product verticals are performing best, are people more interested in an online casino, live casino or mobile games? Or will live sports rule forever?

“Virtual sports have had the biggest growth in this segment because of its dominance in the retail environment which in some African countries is higher even than online and retail sports betting.

Players associate with these games because of the link to live sports and because they think they can find an edge over the house. The challenge though with an online offering is these products tend to use more bandwidth and so its use is limited to players who have Wi-Fi or can afford the data.

Live casino is growing but limited because of the availability of data and as the product tends to attract higher spenders, it’s a product suited to a niche market which is not associated with typical African betting.

Online mobile casino is growing as simpler games are introduced into the market. Games like ‘African’ 12 number roulette which have been prevalent in retail outlets are popular amongst players, however, unlike European slot players, they play these games to win enough money to place their next big accumulator bet on sports.

There is a growing middle class that is attracted to popular European slot games which are for those operators using typical online acquisition methods like affiliate and web site referrals.”

Editor’s Note: After speaking with Dolan, it seems that the digital transformation in Africa is well on its way. The market conditions are clearly different to what we experience in the western world, so adaptation is key.

Innovative marketing strategies such as promotional bonuses that reward with data bundles are encouraging examples of what is possible. The pull of sports products is also a major aspect to be considered, highlighted with the growth of virtual games which spiked during lockdown, offering a lot of potential ‘Covid-19 proof’ revenue for the future.

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