WasafiBet is the latest in a series of sports betting companies to enter the Tanzanian market, recently launched by Diamond Platnumz, one of Tanzania’s biggest music export and the Founder and CEO of Wasafi Limited.
It joins the likes of SportPesa, Premier Bet, Betway, Princess Bet, Bet Princess, 1XBet and many national and multinational sports betting companies which have been key players in the industry for the past years.
Despite outcry from across Africa on the concerns of the impact that the betting industry has had on youth, betting companies continue to grow and thrive. According to studies, problem gambling among young people is now a public health challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa, however, the behaviour remains understudied.
But why is the betting and gambling industry continuing to thrive? It comes down to one main thing; it is lucrative.
Tanzania Daily spoke with Addo Komba, Director of Sports Department in the ministry of information, Arts, Culture and sports, revealed that each country imposes a different tax on these sports betting games, with some tax as little as 20% and others charging up to 50%.
On the other hand, Tanzania has the lowest tax, charging only 25%, attracting many betting industry investors.
Speaking about the potential consequences of sports betting for Tanzanian society, particularly for young people, Mr Addo Komba stated that there are rules that govern the betting industry, one of which is an age restriction, whereby these placing odds or participation is not permissible for anyone under 18 and that anyone under the age of 18 parental guidance is required.
“All betting does not allow children to participate, and those over the age of 18 are allowed to do so. If someone under 18 participates, other institutions, including the parents, should be involved because the parent, not the government, is the child first guardian”, he said.
Mr. Komba, also suggested a strategy for ensuring that governments earn revenue from sports betting industries while minimizing negative societal consequences where he said;
“communities, parents, guardians, governments, and these sports betting companies must work together to ensure that the rules with which they are registered and enforced and that all sports betting laws are abided by since the goals of these companies are harmless and the revenue earned helps the government to improve different sectors”.
With the widespread use of digital technology, online sports betting are now more easily accessible to everyone, including children and young people.
While the government and the regulation clearly state that only 18+ can participate, Tanzania Daily toured Dar es Salaam, in some of the sports betting centres, where it found young men, seemingly under the age of 18 participate in the age-prohibited gaming.
Speaking to Tanzania Daily in the condition of anonymity, when asked if they require identification and proof of the participant’s age before allowing them to participate, one operator of the centre located at Kijitonyama, in Kinondoni area said that they do not ask for any identification.
We spoke with Jimmy Masaoe, Betway Tanzania’s Country Operations Manager, about how they ensure that only people over the age of 18 have access to sports betting, as required by government regulations, and he had this to say.
“For most betting activities, the legal age is 18, which means that if you engage in these activities while under the age of 18, you are breaking the law. So, as a company, we have a way of verifying upon registration also the system that requires all Tanzanians who use mobile networks to register their SIM cards and link them with the NIDA database, put us on board since to get into the NIDA database you must be above 18 and for us to complete transactions we need your National ID”.
In search of experience from the youth who are largely the participants, we talked to Stan Massebo, a 25 years bettor and NIT student living in Mabibo, Dar es Salaam. Massebo thinks it is good when another sports betting company is entering the market because once another option is available, it always offers different pecks and always looks forward to improving where other companies have fallen short.
Asked about the outcry that sports betting is creating a lazy, illusioned population of youth, Mr Massebo says “I can’t say there aren’t days when I don’t lose because that would be lying, and there are times when it interferes with my studies, as in I’m too stressed to walk to university.”
And when we asked if it was worth the effort, he said yes.
Sports betting revenues appear to have swept the government off its feet, as during the approval of the government budget for the 2020/2021 fiscal year, the government reduced 5% of net winning tax from 20% to 15%, and it was agreed to use 5% of the 25% gross gaming revenue to improve sports sector in Tanzania.