Keith Hathaway can be described as a gambling veteran in the African market, having worked in over 13 countries in the region. His understanding of the African gambling market is legendary especially in the areas of sales and marketing
You have worked extensively in Africa, can you give us an assessment of Africa’s gaming market?
The African market is vibrant and right now a real buzz area, being talked about by most major European operators.
The growth is insane in many respects, but I truly believe that this is just the beginning.
How were you able to cope with the different markets knowing full well that the gambling markets are different?
Africa really is unique; the only comparable region is USA with their 50 states versus the 54 countries in Africa. Like America, just a small percentage have regulated but this is growing fast.
Localising is all part of the challenge; I have worked in 13 or 14 African countries (and growing) so far, I can honestly say they are ALL unique.
Marketing is a very integral part of the business, what is your guiding principle when planning for any jurisdiction?
Understand your market, localise content and marketing campaigns, but do not let standards drop.
Before coming out with a product, what are the key things you take cognizance of and why?
As much as understanding your markets is vital, as I have just said, you need to understand your product too. Learn what is great about it, also learn what is maybe not so good. Knowledge is key in terms of marketing, operations and with product developments and improvements.
One of the biggest mistakes made by operators coming to Africa is to bring their own technology and products believing that it will work here.
These are the guys that go back to Europe or North America with their tails between their legs, and poorer than they were when they arrived!
You need tech just for Africa, to be blunt you need light, simple and fast tech. Large weight and data using Online Slots or eSports are some time off in terms of mass usage in Africa.
The honest but sad truth is, Africans in general do not have access to good enough smart phones or data/wifi. You need to realize that and give African people a product they can use.
Simplicity wins here.
How do you achieve maximum product penetration in all the jurisdictions you covered knowing full well that the markets in Africa are not the same.
Going back to what I said before, it is all about localisation. Luckily in terms of Sports betting there is not much variation. Football, Football, Football!
The differences are in Lotto and Numbers games. West Africa and the 5/90 compared to simple Pick 3 type of instant wins in the East. Virtuals all over but Nigerians really love them!
These are generalizations, but have truths.
The differences are in habits, cultures, languages and laws. These are the main areas to localise.
Football is the leading sport in Africa, however majority of our football league matches are not featured on sportbooks. Is this not a source of concern to you?
Time for more hard truths here.
The African game, and leagues in most African countries have to clean themselves up before betting companies will offer odds on them.
I was living in Accra when their national league got suspended for corruption, for example, and for a long time too!
Betting companies are afraid of match fixing and that is the sad truth.
Africa has a crazy big passion for Football, as big as any place on earth, but there are corruption issues in Africa.
It is not only Africa, but Africa does have an issue it needs to solve here. But nobody is picking on Africa here, there are many Asian countries and former CIS countries where you cannot bet on their leagues either.
The growth of iGaming in Africa is exponential however, online regulation is not growing at that rate. How can regulators in Africa be enhanced
They just need to get things regulated, there are only a handful of African countries who has fully regulated the Online pace, about the same again who officially turn a blind eye, and a few who you can get permissions direct from the sitting governments.
It’s complicated, every country is sovereign and that has to be respected. But, I would love to see the majority of countries regulated over the next few years. Fingers crossed.
Do you see a pan-Africa regulation in the offing with the formation of GRAF?
No, I don’t, because as I have said, all countries are sovereign and many of them do not get on! So, a pan-African solution is unlikely in my opinion, sadly.
Finally which Africa market do you find most challenging and which is most interesting to you?
Every African market has its challenges! There is no way you will get me to name and shame my most challenging…
I always sit on the fence, like I do when I am asked if I prefer Nigerian or Ghanaian Jollofe, at times you have to be a politician!
What I can say is that every market has given me challenges and headaches, but equally, I have fallen in love with Africa and every single market and countries has given me huge joy.
About SiGMA Europe:
SiGMA Europe will take place on February 16-18, 2021. Europe remains a leading market for gaming, making this the perfect opening gaming show for 2021. Join us for the 7th edition of SiGMA at the MFCC - Malta Fairs & Conventions Centre, and explore how you can benefit from being a delegate, a sponsor, an exhibitor or a keynote speaker.