The gambling sector in East Africa is in a “total mess” following the collapse of global sport in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, a Ugandan betting company has said.
Betting markets have dramatically shrunk in light of the suspension of the world’s leading football leagues, which has left little for people to gamble on.
But in east Africa, the market has been particularly hard-hit because few in the region bet online.
“In terms of sales, we’ve lost about 99% because most of our people are not too much into online betting,” Ivan Kalanzi, a brand ambassador for GAL Sport Betting website, told BBC Sport Africa.
“We don’t have too many (online gamblers) in Kenya or Tanzania, where we are more into betting houses.”
Many betting shops in the region were closed earlier this month because of the coronavirus outbreak, which is increasing across the region.
As a result, an industry whose annual turnover is worth at least $20m in Kenya, $12m in Uganda and approaching $10m in Tanzania has been decimated.
“Maybe only 30% do online betting and most are middle income earners who would usually be interested with the giant [football] leagues, like France and Germany, which were put on hold, so it’s a total mess,” Kalinzi added.
A vast number of leagues, across a raft of sports, have been suspended in the last month as the coronavirus pandemic has swept across the globe.
It is part of a wider malaise across the industry in light of an outbreak which has decimated global sport.
One leading European betting group estimated last week that its revenue would reduce by at least $100m if restrictions hindering sport were kept in place until the end of August and other key events – such as the 2020 European Championships – were postponed, as has now happened.
This figure could rise significantly given that horse racing in the United Kingdom, which provides a major market, has also been cancelled.
“The challenge facing our business and the industry more widely is unprecedented in modern times,” said Peter Jackson, Chief Executive of Flutter Entertainment, which runs the Paddy Power and Betfair operations.
“Our focus, first and foremost, is on protecting the welfare of our employees and our customers and we will leave nothing to chance in this regard.”
BBC Sport Africa reached out to several bookmakers in east Africa for comment but all refused to do so.