The importance of bespoke sportsbooks for the African market

Bettorlogic’s CEO, Andrew Dagnall, on how African bettors are becoming better educated, and the role of immersive betting experiences.

ICE London was another resounding success at the start of February. The biggest iGaming event of the year reaffirmed that Africa’s sports betting market is thriving and for the most part, this growth is stimulated by companies from the continent.

Africa’s sports bettors are becoming better educated and beginning to push the boundaries beyond the 1×2, total goals and goalscorer markets. However, data reveals that approximately 75% of sports betting still revolves around traditional football markets.

Immersing bettors in innovative markets enhances enjoyment and their lifetime value increases dramatically. Another benefit of expanded market choice is that it enables operators to develop more accurate customer profiles. Communication can be more relevant with offers on certain markets or suggestions on new markets dictated by historical data from similar player profiles.

Operators must play their part in this behaviour shift by delivering a user experience that can allow this change in betting approach to thrive. User experiences must also be reflected in retail shops as they remain a key factor in Africa.

ICE Africa last October showed mobile sports betting is on the up too. For this vertical to reach the heights of Europe there needs to be infrastructure improvements. Mobile needs reliable internet and download speeds to meet its potential. Sports betting sites which are having success in Africa are the ones built bespoke for the region and understanding what makes individual countries tick.

Importance of tech infrastructure for African sports betting growth
Sites that are leading the market have been optimised for speed and a seamless user experience. The top-performing sportsbooks have adapted their offering by having in-depth knowledge and have worked to deliver a strong mobile service. For example, Opera is the second most popular browser in Africa and Opera Mini has around 70% share of mobile browser traffic across Africa. Sportsbooks must optimise and design for Opera Mini to avoid losing vast numbers of users. One way of achieving this is by offering Lite versions of sportsbooks for bettors that wish to use mobile.

Lite versions need robust architecture, and this requires a thorough appreciation of the end user. African sports bettors use low end and feature phones loaded with many default apps that have relatively low mobile internet speed. Optimised browsers like Opera Mini (Extreme) are very popular in Africa as they reduce mobile data consumption by up to 90%.

Optimisation for these browsers throws up challenges for development teams who are usually accustomed for markets outside of Africa, mainly Europe. SportsIT, Bettorlogic’s innovative software house, experienced some of these challenges when developing its sportsbooks for roll-out across Africa. Development needs clear objectives to build a lightweight product that works on all devices and browsers. The site must excel on a device with very low memory and limited or intermittent speeds.

“SportsIT is able to deliver a sportsbook product in less than three months without compromising on the user experience, features or quality,” says Bettorlogic CTO Raj Kalakota. “The site we went live with is currently one of the lightest and fastest Sportsbook in Africa and thanks to its flexibility they are regularly launching new products and features.”

The solution to making a sportsbook suitable for Africa is delivering it solely in HTML, minimum network calls, minimum optimised images, basic JavaScript, basic CSS and content processed on the server side using backend technologies like .Net Core.

Further enhancements come from ensuring performance is optimised by using in-memory cache databases (Redis) for the HTML delivery and by using the cloud (AWS) capabilities for scaling. Sites need an initial load of less than 250KB and under 25KB for subsequent loads and all without compromising on the user experience.

Future of the market and how operators can better engage with the betting middle class
Africa offers vast riches in 2020 and beyond for those operators who understand the nuances of the region best. As sports bettors become better educated and begin to explore markets outside of the traditional options, the need for the right infrastructure grows.

Technology exists in the market today to make sports betting sites perfect for Africa. All these enhancements within the sports betting experience means sportsbooks are better placed to reach Africa’s middle-class too. This audience is the next huge area for growth and having a clear picture of what will engage them means one can deliver a market-ready product.