Gambling is one of the world’s oldest pastimes. Archaeologists have found evidence of it going back as far as the Palaeolithic period or Old Stone age. More recent discoveries have revealed it was enjoyed in Africa, Ancient China, Europe, and even Pre-Roman Britain. 

When you consider the rich and varied cultural history of betting the world over, it comes as no surprise that gambling these days is so different from one African nation to the next. For example, it is totally legal to bet online or in a luxurious land-based casino just a few kilometres from a nation that bans it outright.

Egypt

The ambiguity of Egypt’s gambling laws makes it more difficult to know how to proceed lawfully. While there is strict legislation governing betting of any kind, it isn’t totally illegal, either. The National Lottery, for example, is legitimate and thousands of Egyptians play it every week.

Additionally, there are legal land-based gambling facilities all over the country, with Cairo boasting a full 13 venues. Egyptian citizens, however, are not allowed to enter. Only foreigners are admitted, and you have to show your passport to gain entry. A further measure to discourage native citizens from betting is that only US dollars are accepted at these venues. 

The last piece of legislation which deals directly with gambling in Egypt was written almost 100 years ago, so it obviously makes no mention of online betting. This means that Egyptians can legally enjoy Baccarat, Blackjack, Poker, Roulette, slots, and more at online foreign operators’ sites.

Internet-based gambling has really taken off all over the world and, in countries which have instituted the proper regulations, it’s given a huge boost to the various economies. In the United Kingdom, for example, gambling enterprises have to pay taxes of 15% on amounts up to £2,370,500. And, due to the popularity of this pastime, the competition amongst operators is enormous. This means that only the very best brands end up being successful. 

Left-wing Egyptian politicians have been putting increased pressure on Egyptian lawmakers to review the current anti-gambling legislation. Supporters of legalisation posit that the US$200 million currently being brought in from the gambling industry annually could increase by as much as 300%. All that’s required is that current laws get updated to reflect the new sector.

Kenya

When you take into account that a mere 51 million of Africa’s 1.2 billion inhabitants hail from Kenya, it’s surprising that this nation boasts the continent’s third-highest gambling revenue

While all forms of gambling are legal here, it’s online sports betting that is the most popular. Football is the sport of choice in Kenya and 83% of all wagers made are on these games, most often on English Premier League teams.

Although there is a plethora of land-based bookmakers dotting the country, most Kenyans opt to wager via their smartphones instead. In 2019, US$29 million of the total US$50 million gambling revenue was posted by online bookmakers. Casino entertainment is also becoming more popular here. There are 13 medium- to large-scale gambling venues in the nation at the time of writing and many more in the pipeline. 

One of the biggest issues for the Kenyan gambling economy is how the marketplace is dominated by foreign-owned companies. When viewers enjoy EPL action on their TVs, they get bombarded with advertising from UK-based sportsbooks and sponsorship information from bookmakers based in Britain. As a result, most opt to bet with international sportsbooks instead of local providers. 

Discussions around banning advertising from companies based overseas have been brought up, but nothing has yet been done to institute any real plan of action. If the Kenyan government can find a way to halt the flow of money leaving the nation each week and bulking the bank accounts of foreign bookmakers, however, gross gambling revenue will explode. 

Somalia

It’s totally illegal to gamble in Somalia, which means that the local economy is unable to benefit from this industry in any way. It’s a country whose citizens are by and large Muslims and the Quran variously calls gambling a profound sin and evidence of the handiwork of the devil himself. As such, there are zero gambling premises. The 99% of the population which follows Allah and his prophet Muhammad would refuse to visit them.

If you are caught betting in Somalia, you can expect far worse punishment than the fines or prison times as you would in other countries around the world where gambling is illegal. Instead, Somalians caught breaking this law are subject to Shari’a law. And this usually means they’ll get flogged in public. This severity of this punishment is a massive deterrent for would-be-bettors, and even those who can access online operators decline to do so.

Industry statistics reveal that the penetration of online gambling into Somalia is less than 1.5%. The vast majority of global providers have chosen to steer clear of even offering their remote service to citizens of this country. 

Legalising this sector would see the Somalian economy receiving an incredible boost. With a gross domestic product of almost US$5 billion, the financial resources of this nation are worth over US$1 billion more than the British online gambling market. The chances of the anti-gambling laws being relaxed in any way are slim-to-none, however. Any change relies heavily on the attitude of a very religious demographic who refuse to reconsider their current stand.  

A Melting Pot of Different Attitudes

Africa is a blend of vastly different cultures, costumes, and religions and this means that the continent presenting a united approach to betting and gambling is impossible. Most Muslim countries have banned it and will continue to do so, but there are many nations that have not. The challenge facing the latter group is that legislation must be drafted to ensure that each economy benefits from this kind of entertainment. 

If authorities get this part right, there’s a foreseeable future where all kinds of gambling are permitted, and the industry can thrive alongside the country which allows it.

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