West African regulators driving operators underground

Africa is a big place, and a potentially bigger opportunity for the gambling industry. SBC Digital Summit Africa Day 1 offered a tour of the continent, looking at the different realities of Africa’s regions, and what it takes to succeed as a newcomer to the market.

In the first panel of the day, moderator Ilya Machavariani, CEO of 4H.Agency, hosted a panel that looked at what it takes to get started in East Africa. Although it may not offer the same opportunities West Africa currently has, particularly with Nigeria, Jeff Halloran, Managing Director of Sahara Games, noted it’s a much more stable place to invest.

Regulators on the east side of the continent “telegraph their intent,” he noted. When compared to states in western Africa, he noted that policy makers in east Africa are “a little bit more approachable.”

As he noted, it’s impossible to talk about the two regions without describing the contrast. In west Africa, regulators know the bounty they’re sitting on, and will regularly jack up tax rates to fill their own coffers. That’s creating a situation where the regulated market is being strangled and the black market is beginning to thrive. “They just drive everybody underground,” he noted.

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