The sports betting industry in Ghana has encountered astronomical growth within a very short space of time, with the country now rated as one of the fastest-growing gambling markets in the world.
Ghana still trails the likes of South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya in terms of the size of gambling markets in sub-Saharan Africa, but the country is definitely right up there with the best of the rest.
It is estimated that over half of the Ghanaian adult population have been involved in one form of gambling or the other.
From its humble beginnings in betting shops across Accra, Kumasi, and other big cities, sports betting in Ghana has progressed rapidly through the years and is now much more organized and sophisticated.
Online betting has transitioned from betting shops to mobile phones, with over 80% of Ghanaian bettors now betting on their mobile devices.
The switch to mobile betting has obviously been helped by the sharply improving mobile penetration in the country.
As at January 2021, there were over 40 million mobile connections in Ghana, a rise of 8.1% from the same point in the previous year.
Internet accessibility and usage is also on the rise; hence more people can now connect to online betting sites in Ghana.
In addition to these, online betting has also been propelled by the improving financial inclusion in Ghana.
With mobile money going at full steam, many Ghanaians are now able to do their transactions via their mobile networks.
Online betting companies have jumped on the mobile money wagon, with payment methods like MTN, Vodafone and Airtel Tigo now available on many betting sites in Ghana.
Many Ghanaian phone users are on one or more of these three networks; hence, they can send and receive money; and pay their bills without any hassles.
The sharp rise in gambling activities in the country prompted the creation of the Gaming Commission of Ghana in 2006.
Established under the Gaming Act 721 (also enacted in 2006), the Commission was set up to oversee all gambling activities in the country, except lotteries.
The responsibilities of the body include to regulate, control, monitor and supervise the operations of games of chance in Ghana. They are also responsible for issuing licenses to gambling operators in the country.
Since then, over 20 betting companies have received licenses to operate in Ghana.
Given the huge potential of the Ghanaian market, more operators look set to enter the country in the coming months and years.
The Gaming Commission has done a decent job of regulating the online betting industry in Ghana, but the general feeling amongst observers is that more needs to be done.
Many unlicensed betting sites are still accepting Ghanaian players, meaning that the government is missing out on valuable tax revenue, while cases of gambling malpractices are still prevalent.
Despite making great strides in recent years, Ghana’s online betting industry continues to be a developing sector.
It is important that the country takes bigger control of the industry so that it can maximise the economic benefits and protect its citizens from shady bookmakers.