Gambling, in all its forms, is one of the biggest industries in the world and the online version is breaking new records by the month. African governments, so far, have kept a wary eye on online gambling but the more traditional forms, including lotteries, are becoming more popular. Richard Seymour reports.
When Tim Berners-Lee first came up with an idea for research scientists to use the internet to share information, he stoppeda colleague in the corridor of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) where he worked and asked him what he thought of the name he had thought of for it--the World Wide Web. The colleague thought it sounded good enough and history was made.
That was more than 20 years ago now. Faster computers, broadband technology and mobile communication have transformed the way we use the Web so that fewer and fewer people now refer to the world away from it as 'real life' but accept both experiences as part of the same social, professional and commercial fabric.
Of all the industries that expanded their presence into cyber space, gambling has done better than most. Already one of the largest sectors on the Web, it is still one of the fastest growing.
According to Global Betting and Gaming Consultants (GBGC) the gaming industry just online was worth almost $3obn around the world in 2010, which represents a rise of 12% over the previous year. In 2011, the sector is expected to grow by a further 14% and be worth more than $4obn by 2014 .
One of GBGC's analysts, Steve Schwartz, said: "With the amount of countries that have legalised some form of online gambling, that number will most likely continue to grow over the next decade. If that is the case, the industry could become one of the most relied on in the world when it comes to tax revenue created."
Gambling may be a vice, but along with tobacco and alcohol, the governments of the world know a cash cow when they see one and, in Africa too, online gaming is being legalised and licences are being granted. But it is a long and difficult process and there is, as is the case all over the world, opposition when such things are made more accessible to the population.
The government of Kenya, though its Betting Control and Licensing Board, has granted Canadian company, Amaya Gaming, the right to carry out a study of online gaming in the East African country.
But more than just an opportunity to raise revenue, the regulation of the sector will, it is...