MultiChoice Enters Online Gambling Sector with 20% of BetKing

The pay-TV operator that provides DStv, a major service in Sub-Saharan Africa and GOtv, is expanding its activity as it sees opportunities in the online betting segment. In the last months, online gaming has been on the rise, while gambling venues suffered losses in revenues due to cancelled events.

Africa to Become the Next Large iGaming Market

On 19 November, Africa’s largest pay-TV provider MultiChoice announced it is entering the sports betting business with a 20% stake in Nigerian online sports-bet company BetKing. The deal was revealed by MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela, who said the investment amounted USD81 million (ZAR1.3 billion) and its objective was to “expand the group’s entertainment ecosystem further” and to boost its revenue through a larger list of products and services. MultiChoice valued the gaming company at USD400 million.

“Sports betting is an interesting market that is aligned to our pay-TV business. We have a lot of sport on our platform, and many people that are betting watch more games.”

Calvo Mawela, CEO, MultiChoice

According to Mawela, the initial investment might be followed by another USD31 million (ZAR500 million) payment should BetKing reach certain financial targets, which were not disclosed, by the end of 2023.

The total subscriber base of MultiChoice across Africa accounted for 13.5 million users in 2018 and the company was referred to as one of the fastest growing pay-TV operators on a global scale. The acquisition of a stake in BetKing is a strategic move to provide additional funds in a time when expenses for broadcasting licences that will allow the TV provider to maintain its European football rights remain high. BetKing operates in Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia, and has plans to become a pan-African player.

Covid-19 Impact on Gambling in Africa

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on the gambling industry in Africa, as many horse racing and sports events were cancelled or postponed indefinitely due to the outbreak. Totalisators, casinos, bingo halls and other gambling establishments also suffered losses following the closure of venues as part of the efforts to limit the spread of the virus. However, the slowdown of the sector was partially offset by the surge in online gambling activity since the start of the national lockdown in March.

In a panel on the topic of online gambling during the ICE Africa 2020 conference, Ghana Gaming Commission head of legal Gifty-Rita Amoah said that during the lockdown, some sports-betting operators were granted licences to run online activity, which was not possible previously. The online gambling segment was already on the rise in Africa and the restrictions on physical movement will only accelerate the trend and will push regulators to boost these activities. Botswana is one of the countries planning to offer sports-betting licence by the beginning of 2021.

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