South Africans place wagers totaling billions of rands on the results of sporting events like horse races, soccer matches, and memory games on an annual basis. According to one report, this number is projected to reach R11.1 billion by 2023. However, because of Covid-19, most popular methods of betting have come to a complete and total halt. All of the sports matches and races, except the most inconsequential ones, are out of the question, and retail locations that dealt in traditional number games have been closed down.
The correlation between lockdown-induced frustration and betting may seem like positive news for the online gambling industry, but it is little available to enhance substantial spending from dedicated local bettors. This is the case unless the loyal local bettors are interested in betting on Belarusian soccer, the occasional ping pong matchup, darts, or Australian horse racing.
Before the introduction of COVID-19, the wagering scenery in South Africa was relatively predictable, and the majority of wagers were placed through fixed retail outlets.
According to Rob Scott, who is in charge of sports betting operations at Phumelela Gaming, there are customarily two primary types of gambling activities in South Africa: live sporting events and lottery draws.
Scott believes that horse racing is important in its own right. “However, the most exciting things right now are statistics and sports, specifically soccer. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that there are relatively few businesses that would not be affected by Covid-19 throughout the industry.
Keith Bolton, the virtual supervisor at Betting World, mentioned that the company has experienced a decrease in revenue throughout this period. Because of this, they have been forced to come up with new offerings that do not depend on live sports games.
Following the conclusion of Covid-19, there has been an increase in betting on esports specifically all over the world. Draft Kings, a company that offers sports betting in the United States, reported that the number of fictional esports competitions held in the nation jumped by a factor of 50 in March.
Now Taking Wagers on Tournaments for Both Starcraft and League of Legends
Even though South African esports are still lagging behind international developments by a significant margin, it is now possible to place wagers on the results of games such as Defense of the Ancients (DOTA), League of Legends, and StarCraft via the majority of local online gambling platforms.
According to Bolton, placing bets on soccer matches that take place within the context of the cross-platform game FIFA is also becoming an increasingly common practice.
However, esports and betting on esports are still in their early stages of development as a market in South Africa. Instead, according to Bolton, their primary focus is on maintaining the participation of traditional sports bettors and those in the horse racing industry until things can get back to normal.
To accomplish this goal, the majority of wagering portals in South Africa have implemented virtual sporting events, including even animated competitions. The outcomes of these are determined by a draw from a spontaneous database or by an algorithm.
Betting World has introduced a new product called Jika, which is primarily a computer-generated horse race and, in Bolton’s words, “basically looks exactly how you’d experience it in actual situations.” Jika was created by the company. In addition to this, you can watch it live on wagering television stations just like you would a regular race.
They have also implemented cartoon soccer, which makes use of the same technology as the underpinning game, and a match is ‘played’ every six minutes.
“Simulated Soccer,” Which is Not Quite the Same Thing as the Real Deal
However, “simulated” sports have recently been introduced by a variety of outlets, catering to the needs of devoted soccer bettors who are familiar with their teams and wish to forecast the results of particular matches.
These run based on the postponed soccer timetables around the world, but rather than wagering on the results of real unplayed games, gamblers are betting on an arbitrary result that is pulled from a massive dataset of historical occurrences between the two teams.
At the very least, this makes it possible for football fans to feel some degree of anticipation, and it also allows them to assert that they are using their outstanding soccer knowledge when situations go their way. Other, more conventional games, such as online simulations of roulette and a variety of lottery-style numeric draws, have also discovered a home on local betting websites, where they are attracting a significant amount of wagering action.
According to Bolton, Betting World had planned to launch each of these product lines at some point in the future, but they were forced to do so much sooner than they had anticipated. He says, “I don’t think they would have become so popular this quickly if it weren’t for Covid-19, but all of them were products that were going to be released anyway.
There are some long-term benefits for the local online gambling industry that can be derived from the new games that local companies were required to implement due to Covid-19’s closure. According to Scott, the shift toward digital was unavoidable: “In the end, Covid-19 is forcing people to go online, and it’s going to force us to rethink online betting.” I suppose that will turn out to be a positive in the long run.” In addition to this, Betting World has noticed a new group of clients who were not previously included in their database.
Bolton claims that the company has “never had esports betting in the past,” which means that they have “never tapped into” this market. “However, we are now seeing new clients sign up to play games such as Dota 2 or League of Legends,”
However, Traditional Gamblers Are Not Intrigued by This
Getting clients who bet on real-world events like horse races and football matches enthused about simulation models and visuals is proving to be a challenge.”Our customers are traditional in their tastes, and they all have their go-to spots,” says Bolton. Therefore, the introduction of new products is challenging. However, we are making progress.”
According to Bolton, the swift innovation of betting in South Africa under Covid-19 is not likely to see the number of bets drawn in by traditional sporting events; however, it is beginning to gain speed. According to Bolton, the quantity is not significant at all, even though it is virtually impossible to put a precise amount on how much money the wagering market is receiving on simulated, animated, and digital sports. “Taking into account all of South Africa’s wagering platforms, you can bet that it’s in the millions.”