More convenience and guaranteed privacy when placing a bet from a remote location are some of the reasons betting houses are set for another boom when the local regulations change to allow online betting. The Gaming Board of Zimbabwe is expected to release updated regulations within the next few months, making it legal for interested Zimbabweans to use the internet to gamble remotely.
Online betting will allow many people who are not currently punting to pursue the hobby from the comforts of their offices, homes, or while they’re on the road.
The backdrop to this forthcoming development is the rapid growth that is already being experienced by betting houses locally. The betting industry in Zimbabwe is booming, according to an analysis of the industry and a subsequent article published by Techzim early this week.
Surging internet penetration across Zimbabwe, especially the paced-up unrolling of fiber links by companies such as Liquid Telecom and TelOne, has seen the number of betting houses – and the number of Zimbabweans visiting them to gamble – rising.
The Internet allows betting to digitize the information-seeking process by allowing patrons – those who place bets – to surf the web for information about sports teams, news, and other relevant information.
Online as the last frontier
Industry insiders say the Gaming board has been dragging their feet as far as updating the legislation to allow online betting is concerned.
If a punter walks into a betting house today, they are able to not only scour the internet for information, but they can also place their bet online, and only interact with betting clerks when making payment/placing their bet. The infrastructure for online betting is in place, but can only be used by a punter who is inside the betting shop.
But forthcoming legislation from the Board is set to change all that, and there are opportunities everywhere.
With updated legislation, comes business opportunity
The first of beneficiary of online betting will obviously be the betting houses who will multiply their current volumes. Betters preferring anonymity because of the stigma associated with the hobby, or those simply unable to physically walk into a shop because they’re too busy, will certainly push the margins up.
But this is also an opportunity for third party entrepreneurs providing all kinds of services. Local software developers who can recreate betting systems on virtual platforms – or create betting apps – are one obvious group.
Africalotto (lotto is different from of betting on sports and horse-racing, and also has different regulations) has already demonstrated how online gambling might work with the release of its 2014 Android app. The opportunity for developers here, given the numerous betting shops and houses that Zimbabwe boasts, is obvious.
Online news outlets are another potential beneficiary, if they can tailor their content to the exact needs of punters (accurate, relevant information delivered in a timely manner). Especially if local betting houses take the decisive step to cover local sports games in leagues such as the highly-popular Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL).
That will not limit opportunity as online advertisers too can chime in if they can integrate within online betting platforms (the way Sky Betting does.) Yet another group with potential to exploit the forthcoming legislative changes are the straight up newbies: startups whose founders not only offer betting on a smaller scale, but who do so on a wider range of things beyond just sports.
Zimbabweans in particular also follow news events, religious movements (prophets and their pronouncements), celebrity culture, and political events. These can all be added to the menu of things that Zimbabweans can bet on.
The opportunities to be presented by forthcoming developments are just about endless.