ICE Africa: Our key takeaway

Earlier this month RISQ touched down in Johannesburg to attend ICE Africa, the only industry conferenced dedicated to the thriving African market.

The conference, organised by Clarion Events, was one of the best we have ever attended with an incredible schedule of panels and presentations delivered by an impressive line-up of experts.

The calibre and professionalism of attendees were so high, and time spent at the conference so valuable that we have already signed up to return and exhibit again next year.

We learned a great deal over the two days the conference was held and in particular, the sports betting and lottery sectors and how they differ from established markets such as the UK. Over the next three months, we will be sharing our thoughts on this market, inviting our partners to also contribute.

Let’s start with lotteries. The most significant difference to me was that Africans take lottery very seriously and are fiercely private about the numbers they choose and why they choose them.

During the conference, I got chatting to industry veteran Geoffrey Wolf, who told me about his understanding of African players and the lottery sector.

Geoffrey Wolf

In Africa, the punters take lottery very seriously.

When they come to an establishment that sells lottery tickets, many come with a book or sheets of paper with their chosen numbers already set out.

I am not aware how they chose their numbers, but they seem to take it very seriously. They do not like to share their numbers with others.

When we opened our first shop dispensing lottery tickets, I was curious as to how the punters perceived our kiosks, and so I stood around watching them play.

One guy was very perturbed and asked me what I was doing, as he thought I was “spying” on the numbers he was entering on the kiosk.

We found that one of the reasons we had success with our kiosks was that the punter entered all of their details and chosen numbers themselves on the kiosk.

This is unlike sports betting shops where the teller takes down the player’s numbers and issues the lottery ticket, thus sharing their numbers with the teller.

This means that operators looking to enter the African market with a lottery product must consider the three Ss – Superstition, Strategy and Secrecy.

Understanding and respecting these cultural differences really is key to succeeding in any market but in particular in Africa where there are plenty of quirks compared to other countries.

This is part of the challenge and fun of operating in a market such as Africa but given the massive potential on the table is something operators and suppliers will be willing to overcome.

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