Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (21 June 2022)
Gaming and gambling are considered illegal, immoral, and unethical by the majority of Ethiopians. Regardless of this perception, the gaming and gambling industry, particularly sports betting, has recently begun and is rapidly expanding in various Ethiopian cities, with 46 licensed sports betting companies in the country as of 2020. In its definition of lottery under Article 2(1) the National Lottery Administration (NLA) incorporates ‘sport betting lottery’ as one legal gaming activity.
The penetration of betting in Ethiopia is very low when compared to countries in Africa such as South Africa, Zambia, Nigeria, and even our neighbor Kenya. However, there is a spurt of growth in the retail betting market, with physical shops opening up in various regions of the country. On the contrary, Abyssinia Law reports that the e-commerce or Ethiopian online betting market is lagging far behind the retail market, with only ten fully accredited betting companies, such as Hulu Sports Betting, offering sports bookings, while physical shops boast an average of about forty shops in each region of Ethiopia.
Growing or not, with institutions such as the Ministry of Women and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Youth Personnel Development and Directorate lobbying against it, the sports betting industry may be coming to an end. According to Addis Standard, the former announced that it is working to get sports betting in Ethiopia banned as it equates it with gambling. The push to ban sports betting has been going on for a couple of months but has not taken place as the betting firms asked for reconsideration on March 05, arguing that betting and gambling are not the same.
Abebe Haimanot, a representative of the Ministry’s Youth Personnel Development Directorate, gave word to Addis Standard that the issue of youth and youth personality development as well as various economic and social crises the sector is causing are the core drivers of this banning act. He further added that based on a series of surveys conducted by the ministry at various times, sports betting is identified as posing a risk to young people and youths alike, discouraging them from working to change their lives and resulting in several cases of psychological issues such as depression and suicidal thoughts.
In defense of his livelihood, Vegas Sports Betting Executive Director, Yonas G. Alemu told local media that despite getting negative comments about the sector from the community, sports betting firms are legally licensed by the National Lottery and are also obeying their social responsibility. To facilitate a positive effect of allowing gambling in Ethiopia, the government, the National Lottery Administration ordered all companies in this sector to transfer 20 percent of their profits to support sporting clubs and institutions. All in all, we have yet to see whether the pros or cons of this industry that will have greater weight in deciding the fate of this sector.
The opinions expresses here in the post "The Push to End Sports Betting in Ethiopia" are those of the individua's contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Business Info Ethiopia , BIE Intelligence PLC, its publisher, editor, or any of its other contributors.