New Ghana iGaming Laws, Attitudes Finally Changing? Conversation with Ghana Gaming Commission

Ghana has long since been a pioneer in the African gaming scene, with its first gambling regulations dating back to 1960. Although, as a region, they have made fantastic progress in the development of their online market, the majority of their national GGR is still generated from retail channels which meant that the Ghana Gaming Commission’s tax income was hit especially hard by the lockdown and lack of live sports.

Similar to the rest of Africa, most of Ghana’s GGR is generated from land-based casinos. Online platforms have mainly been used for sports betting only.

There are currently 238 Ghanaian websites offering wagering and over the last 5 years, online casino and sports betting activity has risen by double figures. However, even with these encouraging numbers, the online sector is still largely overshadowed by the general tendency towards retail. Resulting in a regulatory framework that still needs further development in order to truly facilitate a digital market.

Speaking recently, Gifty-Rita Amoah, Head of Legal for Ghana Gaming Commission said that since the pandemic hit, she had observed a clear switch in objectives from operators. “Most operators never even considered online platforms before but now they are really looking at how they can successfully enter this market”. Gifty went on to mention that “Many Ghanaian operators are actively looking for partners who can provide capital and the technology needed to make this transformation”.

The Commission has even now allowed sportsbook operators to temporarily offer casino products online without needing a license. A clear indication of the priority online gaming is now taking in this jurisdiction.

The adaptability shown by key industry stakeholders in this market has enabled operators to continue generating income and establish new channels for future growth. Gifty continued on to comment that a lot of the operators have “introduced virtual sports and we also saw an increase in the number of online gaming applications, especially from the brick-and-mortar operators, as well as requests to operate online casino”. The Ghana Gaming Commission clearly recognises the need to be responsive to current market conditions and adapt the regulations to be more in line with the fast-evolving market landscape.

When asked about the actual extent to which the commission is supporting its operators, Gifty said, “The Commission did give a month’s allowance to all sports betting operators who had online operations to operate online casinos to make-up for the period of lockdown. Going forward the Commission is looking at how it can offer this opportunity permanently to sports books without creating a problem for the traditional brick and Mortar Casino operations”.

When analysing the changes made by both the regulators and operators in the Nigerian market, it’s clear that there is a healthy level of collaboration between the two. Gifty lastly mentioned that we can expect the new act for online gaming, which will facilitate the growth of a range of new products including casino, poker and eSports, to be possibly out for tender by the end of the 1st Quarter of 2021.

The above comments are just an early insight into the transforming iGaming landscape in key African markets. Never before has the region been so pro-active about encouraging online platforms; both from a regulatory and infrastructure perspective. Coupled with the fact that Africa is the only region in the world where the youth population is increasing. By 2050 Africa’s young people, i.e., those aged between 0 and 24 years old, will increase by nearly 50 per cent. Creating a massive opportunity for new technology adoption and online products in general.

The biggest need in these regions, now, is to find the right partners to collaborate with who can invest the capital, technology or experience where necessary and help realise the brilliant potential of this burgeoning sector.

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