Savvy operators should consider looking beyond those headline grabbing African nations, such as Ethiopia and Zambia, with other regions possessing significant potential but less fierce competition.

That is the view of Christophe Casanova, COO at Honoré Gaming, which has persistently targeted expansion across this aforementioned continent during recent times.

Speaking to CasinoBeats towards the culmination of the year, Casanova delves into this African focus, where else the firm is keeping an eye on and just why the roadmap for the 12 months that lies ahead is “incredibly strong”.

CasinoBeats: Earlier in the year the African region was identified as a growth target by the company, what opportunities do you believe are presented by the continent?

Christophe Casanova: Honoré Gaming has always been dedicated to the African market and the incredible opportunities it presents to operators. Our focus has mostly been on French-speaking countries such as Congo, but over the past 12 months, we’ve expanded our presence into English-speaking African markets like Ethiopia or Nigeria.

Regardless of whether the market is French or English-speaking, Africa is a region with potential like no other. This is due to a combination of unique factors – the first is that people across the continent are obsessed with football, even more so than in Europe, and have an incredible appetite for betting.

What’s more, populations in African countries are getting bigger which increases the size of the addressable market in each. Some industry reports suggest that sportsbook operators active across Africa have enjoyed 20 per cent growth over the past 12 months while some of our operator partners have hit double that at 40 per cent growth year on year.   

CB: More specifically, which countries do you think pose the most potential? And why?

CC: There are several countries that always seem to be in the headlines including Ethiopia and Zambia as they are large markets with clear regulations in place. The thing is, these markets have already attracted some of the biggest betting brands in the business.

I’m not just talking about African brands like Betika, Hollywoodbets and BetKing, but international operators such as Entain and 888. That’s not to say operators can’t enter these markets and capture a decent share of wallet, but it requires a top-flight platform and a sizable branding budget.

Savvy operators with more limited resources should consider markets like Botswana and Namibia – the potential remains big, but the competition is less fierce. 

CB: Away from this continent, which regions further afield are being targeted by the group? And what advantages do you believe are posed by these?

CC: We are definitely keeping an eye on Latin America as the foundations and fundamentals of the region appear to be very similar to Africa. This is certainly the case from a technical point of view, with operators needing to run super lightweight platforms with intuitive front ends and low data if they are to deliver a seamless player experience.

As in Africa, this is due to less-advanced infrastructure, the prevalence and feature phones over smartphones, and the high cost of data for consumers. Of course, the worst mistake that an operator can make when launching in either Africa or Latin America is to use a platform that’s been developed for more established markets in Europe – we’ve seen countless brands do this in Africa and each time they’ve failed to gain any traction. 

CB: You have previously hailed the potential of loyalty schemes, why do you believe that these are so key to the retention strategies of operators?

CC: Given the competition for, and cost of, player acquisition, retention is mission-critical for operators, and this is absolutely the case in markets such as Africa and Latin America. The sheer number of consumers that operators can target and onboard in both regions means there’s the potential to significantly grow their player base.

Operators must keep hold of these players, and traditionally loyalty schemes have proved to be very effective at this. Of course, loyalty schemes need to be localised for specific markets and that’s exactly what we did with our loyalty programme for our African operators.

It takes into account the different number of line bets that Africans place on average (between seven and 10) and the day-to-day habits of players which is to want to interact with things in the here and now. That’s why our loyalty scheme is built around offering weekly and not monthly rewards. 

CB: As we head towards the end of the year, what can we expect from Honoré Gaming in the 12 months that lie ahead and beyond?

CC: Our product roadmap is incredibly strong for 2023 and will see us roll out some major platform updates. This includes the launch of light virtual sports titles in partnership with Kiron Interactive as well as a new CRM system for our operator partners.

We are also working on an affiliate product and will be offering fixed-odds betting on French horse races for the first time. We have a brand new version of our horse racing app in the final stages of development which will be made available for separate and commingled pool betting with French operator, PMU. All in all, it looks set to be a big year for Honoré Gaming and our operator partners.