The National Lotteries Board (NLB) and Malawi Gaming Board (MGB) have issued 8 new licenses. They’ve now approved 8 sports betting companies to offer games of chance.

The companies will begin operation in Malawi soon.

The companies include Betika, one of Kenya’s leading betting firms. Betika has a presence in 8 African countries. The inclusion of Malawi will push this up to 9.

Hollywoodbets is the leading brand in the South African market. The company is also in Mozambique and 2 other African countries.

Already operating in Malawi are Headsquare, Mobipay, Kuwina and Betani. Others include Premier Bet, Premier Lotto and World Star Betting.

MGB Chief Executive Officer, Foster Mlumbe, said the evaluation process was very strict. Each of the applicants were carefully assessed. 8 out of 17 applicants were successful, he added.

He said the industry required liquidity to make prompt payments. It was also important to check the applicants’ ability to enter the industry.

Growing Industry

In recent years, Malawi’s betting industry has shown promise but had remained untapped. Tier-one betting companies began investigating the potential of the gambling and betting business.

Despite its slow growth, the gambling and betting market is full of opportunities. Many African countries have seen exponential growth in the last couple of years.

Sports betting in Malawi has gained popularity, making some players in the country millionaires following taking bets in lotteries.

A Blantyre-based man won a whopping K109 million in 2019. Last year, another won K77 million after taking bets on football games.

The Malawian government has introduced a 20 % withholding tax on winnings. The tax came into effect in late 2020, following the gazetting of the Taxation (Amendment) Act.

Low Market Penetration

The use of mobile phones and mobile money is widespread in Africa. However, the Malawian betting market is still young.

There is low smartphone and internet penetration due to expensive data. Many Malawians cannot afford such bundles.

Recently Malawi has embarked on a digital infrastructural development program. Efforts focus on private partnerships to improve internet quality and penetration. This aims to make internet usage affordable.

Affordability is the biggest hurdle to using mobile phones and the internet.

The Malawi Digital Economic Strategy has set a target of 80% internet connectivity by 2025. This is a long way up from a low level of 14%. The Malawian National Planning Commission (NPC) prepared the strategy. The strategy also aims for an increase in smartphone ownership to 51% by 2026.

Unless prices drop, the sports betting industry in Africa won’t grow.

The issuing of more licenses by the Malawian regulatory authorities is a sign of good things to come.

This means more choice for betting citizens. It also heralds increasing growth and strength for the African industry as a whole.

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