As one of this year’s ICE Africa Champions, what are your aims ahead of the event and in particular with reference to Nigeria?
I partnered with Clarion to co-host its' first event in Africa which was the World Regulatory Briefing (WrB) first held in Lagos, Nigeria and subsequently Nairobi, Kenya before it morphed into ICE Africa. My aims haven't changed much over the years. I have been trying to showcase the industry opportunities in Nigeria specifically and Africa as a whole.
Why do you feel it's important for gaming interests across Africa to have a professional rallying point such as ICE Africa?
ICE Africa is definitely a game changer for the industry because it creates a professional market place, gives African’s a voice and a platform to share their local experiences with a view to improving cross-border business especially in terms of remote gaming. Also, with the coming in to effect of the African Continental Trade Agreement, regulators will have to explore how the treaty will affect their local markets and whether to adopt a uniform or common regulatory framework and what the trade-offs will be in order to align with the goals of the treaty.
Can the economic impact of responsible gambling be used to improve public perceptions of the industry?
The negative perception of gambling has roots in long held religious believes although I think there is a gradual change taking place. From being seen as ‘sin, it's now viewed as a ‘vice’ and in some developed countries it’s perceived as pure entertainment. I think that regulators need to strike a balance between what is acceptable and what is unacceptable in order to create public confidence. Just to elucidate, the economic impact of revenues from gaming need to be advertised while infractions by operators must be severely punished.
You’re taking part in the Next Step in Regulation panel at this year’s event - from a legal perspective what do you see as the major pitfalls for operators in terms of compliance?
Majorly I think that operators coming from properly regulated jurisdictions - who I believe should know better - have tried try to cash in on the lax regulatory framework across Africa instead of taking the initiative to implement industry best practices. I think that the current situation in Kenya was avoidable and we are beginning to see the backlash. If the industry isn’t careful, I foresee similar responses across most of east Africa.
As one of the leading law firms focused on gambling/gaming in South Africa and Nigeria, what do you think other regions can learn in terms of how African gaming can progress?
What I have noticed is that regulators in some African countries treat knowledge or expertise in gaming as the exclusive preserve of Europeans, thereby refusing to compare notes or seek assistance from their local colleagues. The reality is that some of the jurisdictions are way ahead and have a lot to teach their colleagues considering Africa’s socio economic situation and the people’s sensibilities which are similar.
As an ICE Africa Champion you will be assisting with research into data about geographical engagement ahead of the event, are there any sectors you’re particularly interested in researching?
Yes I am particularly interested in Esports, why the global growth hasn’t quite caught on in Africa like sports betting, what the challenges are and how the continent can tap into it.
ICE Africa (2-3 October, Sandton Convention Centre, South Africa) provides an invaluable opportunity for operators, regulators and suppliers to meet, network, share best practice and see the very latest gaming products and services from 70+ of the industry’s leading innovators. Described by industry observers as ‘A showcase event that Africa can be proud of’ attendees will benefit from a programme of engaging content including Thought Leadership, Training, Regulation, Online vs. Retail, Integrated Resorts, Branding, Marketing, Sports and eSports.
Image: Yahaya Maikori
For more information on all of the opportunities available at gaming's only B2B pan-African event and to register, visit: www.iceafrica.za.com