Africa is home to incredibly diverse cultures, landscapes and countries. There is plenty to see and do, from sprawling desert regions to beachfronts that attract millions of international tourists.
Another activity many travellers enjoy is trying their luck at gambling. However, finding an African country to gamble in isn’t as simple as it seems, as many have strict laws against it.
By comparison, the UK is relatively relaxed regarding gambling. Here, you can gamble freely at many brick-and-mortar establishments and on the award-winning online casinos and latest additions at casinos.com.
With such vast differences, we’ve delved into how UK and African gambling laws vary so that you’ll know where to visit if you are travelling in the region and would like to scratch your gambling itch.
The United Kingdom
In the UK, gambling is widely accessible both online and in person. The region is home to over 150 physical casinos with a wide range of table and slot games. There are also more than 175 online casinos available to British players.
The prevailing legislation that covers all gambling within the UK is the Gambling Act of 2005. The law allows gambling on the condition that all relevant regulations are met and the operator of a gambling facility or website is licensed. All licences and policies are controlled by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) — founded as part of the Gambling Act in 2005.
Under the UKGC, operators wishing to offer gambling services must register and prove they fulfil all requirements stipulated by the governing body and the law. If they can do this, they are issued a gaming licence and can begin public operation.
Types of legal gambling include all forms of casino games, lotteries, bingo, keno and sports betting. With players utilising this wide variety of options, the country generates a gross yield of over £14 billion annually.
South Africa is considered one of the most developed countries on the continent. It is also the country with the highest number of gamblers looking to win big, generating over £1.5 billion (or around 34 billion South African rands) in gross gambling yield annually.
The National Gambling Act controls all forms of punting in the country. The legislation was initially introduced in 1996. However, it underwent revisions in 2004 and 2008. Due to backlash over the changes in 2008, the country still operates under the 2004 revision, with the 2008 version expected to be initiated after a ruling by the country’s High Court.
Currently, the country is home to 38 physical casinos. There are also a number of online casinos operating under licenses granted by provincial governing bodies, such as the Mpumalanga Gambling Board. Sports betting is also allowed, with online bookmakers a popular choice among players.
With a revenue of more than £1.6 billion per year, Nigeria has a substantial gambling population. However, not all forms of gambling are allowed in the country, and the most popular way to place a wager is sports betting.
The National Lottery Regulation Commission controls gambling in the country. The commission enforces the National Lottery Act of 2005 and Chapter 22 of the Criminal Code Act, which addresses gambling.
Although online gambling is allowed, not all casino games are accessible. Games such as roulette, dice games (e.g. craps) and non-skilled card games are prohibited. However, lotteries, sports betting, land-based casinos and slots are all allowed.
With around 11% of the adult population engaging in gambling activities, Kenya generates a respectable £88.47 million in gambling revenue each year. Before 2022, gambling in the country was largely unregulated, with many operators having no government oversight.
The establishment of the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) in 2022 drastically changed this. Under the Betting, Lotteries and Gambling Act of 1966, the board is tasked with licensing and regulating legal gambling operators in the country. This may change should the government replace the board with a more powerful authority.
The government authorises the BCLB to issue three kinds of licences related to the types of gambling allowed: casinos, sports betting operators and lotteries.
The gambling revenue generated in Ghana is relatively small compared to other African countries. At only £22.43 million, the industry is expected to grow in the coming years.
All forms of regular gambling are legal in the country, and all gambling operations are overseen by the Ghana Gaming Commission (GGC), which is responsible for licensing operators. The only type of gambling not regulated by the GGC is lotteries, which the National Lottery Authority controls.
Both the GGC and National Lottery Authority use the Gaming Act 721, written into law in 2006, as a base for their operations and decisions.
Although gambling is becoming increasingly popular internationally, some countries in Africa still prohibit it. These regions are incredibly strict, and partaking in the activity can lead to extensive fines, prison sentences or even corporal punishment.
Somalia is among the harshest countries in the world when it comes to gambling. All forms of punting are completely restricted in the region. Moreover, anybody caught gambling is subject to public floggings in lieu of prison time or fines.
Because of this, most residents in the country actively avoid all physical forms of the pastime, and less than 2% of the population participates in online gambling.
Egypt is also known for its tough stance on gambling. The only form of legal and regulated gambling comes in the form of a lottery. And while the country has several casinos, locals are prohibited from entering as they are explicitly operated for tourists.
Despite this, online gambling is a significant industry in Egypt as the law doesn’t expressly prohibit it. Operators available to Egyptian players are based overseas and, therefore, are not required to adhere to local laws, giving punters a chance to try their luck.
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