Sports betting company sees good odds in African market

Voltbet, a South African online and SMS sports betting company, is expanding to a number of other African countries. The service allows users to bet on a variety of sports, from football to tennis. How we made it in Africa’s Kate Douglas asks Daniel Kustelski, managing director at Voltbet, about the decision to expand into the rest of the continent.

Why do you want to expand Voltbet to other African countries? Will it be the same brand and service as offered in South Africa?

Sports betting has been pretty taboo in South Africa and we are trying to break the stigma associated with betting. In South Africa there are only 250 shops and in the UK there are over 9,000 shops. On any football game across Europe there is a sports betting brand that advertises either on the side of the field or as a team sponsor.

The brand will be the same – Voltbet Tanzania, Voltbet Uganda, etc. The services offered will be SMS bets to start. The Soccer 8 is a product the Voltbet developers have created for the east African market. The fixtures are released on a daily basis, where the punters will have to correctly predict the outcome of eight soccer games from around the world.

Why Tanzania and Uganda first?

Tanzania is our first African country. The reason: the Tanzanian Gambling Board is very well respected in Africa. The legislation gives us the opportunity to expand our business by using platforms like SMS. Mobile money is part of daily life in east Africa. We want to use this to grow our business. Our SMS betting will be totally cashless, allowing the punter to place a bet and cash out using the same mobile platform. We will be launching in Tanzania in time for the start of the English Premier League.

Uganda is a country that surprised us. There are 20 sports betting shops in the 18km of road leading into Kampala. The shops are all using old fashioned technology and we would be offering something different to the Ugandan market.

You are currently applying for licences in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi and Rwanda. Why these countries, and when do you expect to have a presence there?

We are applying for licences in the African countries that are members of the Gaming Regulators Africa Forum (GRAF). We will apply for licences where the legislation is clear. Our parent company Purple Capital is a JSE listed company and we cannot work in unregulated environments.

What is the competition like in these African markets?

Uganda’s market is very competitive. There are three major operators with over 800 shops and all offering the same product. We hope to bring some excitement and offer something different. In Tanzania there are a few small operations and the recently launched national lottery.