Online betting a means of leveraging assets


TO CAPITALISE on the rapid growth in sports betting, licensed casino groups and sports marketing agencies should consider online betting and gaming as another way to leverage their existing assets and databases, according to BetTech Gaming, a provider of technology solutions to gaming companies.

Professional services firm PwC forecasts that sports betting turnover in South Africa will grow from an estimated R17bn last year to R24.2bn in 2016 — from below R10bn in 2007.

While horse racing still dominates the sports betting market, the firm says the growth of online sports betting is propelling the overall sports betting market. According to PwC’s gaming outlook report for 2012-2016, the opening of legal online sports betting outlets in 2011 led to “a surge in turnover” in the overall sports betting market, which was “augmented by betting on the Rugby World Cup”.

While online sports betting is legal in South Africa, online gambling is not. Gaming groups have increasingly targeted sports betting to grow overall revenue.

Listed hotel and gaming group Sun International last month announced the proposed acquisition of Powerbet Gaming, which owns and operates This was an “ideal platform to accelerate the group’s entry into the online gaming market”.

Sun International CEO Graeme Stephens said in February that while casino licences had “by and large been allocated” in South Africa, the group would “continue to keep an eye on the alternative forms of gaming, such as sports betting, limited payout machines and electronic bingo”.

Horse racing and sports betting has traditionally been an offline industry, although betting on the web and mobile devices has become a more significant part of the overall market over the past few years.

BetTech Gaming GM Anli Kotzé says licensed casino groups and sports-marketing agencies (which have access to a large database of existing clients and mass marketing channels) “are among the perfect candidates that should consider online betting and gaming as a new way to leverage these assets”.

Other candidates include start-ups with budgets “but limited knowledge about how to create and operate an online sports book”, Ms Kotzé said.

Sites currently running on BetTech Gaming software include and The company has expanded into the rest of Africa, having recently signed clients in Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania.

BetTech Gaming chief operating officer Mark Bosman says web and mobile sports betting has grown substantially in South Africa, especially mobile sports betting, as a result of wide access to mobile devices.

Another driver of the market has been the “rapid growth of live in-play betting”, which includes bets placed after a match has begun on events such as which player will score the next goal, Mr Bosman says.

“We see a massively growing trend around web, mobile and live in-play betting, typically around sports such as football.”

While the market is “in its infancy ” in South Africa and the rest of the continent — owing to a weak culture of sports betting — “we have seen that there is massive demand and a growth trend happening in South Africa and Africa for these sorts of products”.

Throughout Africa, “football is the absolute driving trend behind sports betting”. BetTech Gaming receives a large number of inquiries from potential operators who are seeking to set up football-only online betting platforms, Mr Bosman says.

Because online casino-related gambling is illegal in South Africa but online sports betting is not, “the larger casino retail players are looking to get into the sports betting space almost in anticipation of online casinos becoming legalised.

“In the interim, launching a sports betting business is the first step into that online gaming market in South Africa,” says Mr Bosman.

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