Go to Africa to "legal" gambling, Internet surfaced

4/9/2021 6:36:30 AM

    Liu Wenle (not his real name) took his team to Africa more than a year ago to study chess and gambling, but he stayed put. More than a year later, the market has been turned upside down.

    The Chinese have discovered Africa at a time when online gambling and board games are being restricted at home. In countries such as Kenya and Nigeria, online gambling is legal as long as you have a license.

    As far as Liu knows, there are more than a dozen Chinese online gambling teams operating in Africa, ranging from listed companies to small groups, and netease is among the gold diggers.

    Xi 'an Yunrui Network Technology Co., Ltd. (Xi 'an Yunrui), known in China for its werewolf killing games, has begun to engage in online gambling in Africa, Zhixian.com has learned. BangBet, launched in Africa, is aimed at Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda. Using a local mobile phone number, you can register an account to take part in betting games and lottery bets for as little as 20 Kenyan shillings ($0.18) a bet. Netease's Thunder Huo Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as Thunder Huo Technology) is the largest shareholder of Xi 'an Yunrui, according to public data.

    According to industry insiders, some of the gambling products online by Chinese enterprises in Africa are worth tens of millions of dollars a month.

    'Werewolf Kill' is in the betting

    In Africa, an online gambling product called Bangbet has been quietly launched. It is not yet available in the Google app store, and is only available as a download package through the official website and other channels.

    According to Bangbet's official description, in Africa, it is aimed at three countries: Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria. With this product, you can not only bet on football, basketball, tennis, table tennis and rugby, but also include a number of betting games.

    In Kenya, Bangbet is owned by Rambo Resource Ltd, which has a legal licence to operate gambling in Kenya, according to its profile. According to Techtrendke, Rambo Resource Ltd started online gambling as early as 2016, when it launched Kenya's first online gambling app. With mobile payments, users can gamble online with real money.

    According to relevant information, Rambo Resource Ltd also holds a gambling license in Uganda. However, in Nigeria, the other country Bangbet has entered, official information shows that it is owned by Asen Football Venture International Limited, a company registered in the country and licensed by the Sports Marketing and Lottery Commission of Benue State.

    But Bangbet has a Chinese corporate presence behind it. A search of Bangbet's domain name in Kenya reveals that Bangbet's official website in Kenya is registered by Zhu Wenjun and his address is in Beijing, China.

    Bangbet's domain name in Uganda is registered under Lucky Bus DMCC with a registered address in Dubai.

    According to public information, Lucky Bus's main manager is Yongke Yin. According to zhixiang.com, Yongke Yin is actually Yin Yongke, who is famous for playing werewolf killing games.

    As of March 26, 2020, Yin Yongke also owned Lucky Bus (Hainan) Network Technology Co., Ltd., in which he held 90 percent of the shares, according to Qi Cha. Lucky Bus is an overseas project of the Xi 'an Werewolf Killing Company, which produces online mini-games aimed at the overseas market, according to the company's website.

    The Xi 'an werewolf in the brief introduction kills a company namely Xi 'an Yunrui. In fact, Xi 'an Yunrui acquired the license to operate gambling in the above-mentioned countries through purchase, Zhixiang learned from relevant sources.

    In China, Xi 'an Yunrui has developed and operated a wolf-killing mobile game, which is issued by netease agent. Enterprise check information shows that the largest shareholder of Xi 'an Yunrui netease netease thunder fire, holding 30% of the equity. Netease Thunderfire is the company responsible for the game business of netease Group.

    Coincidentally, corporate checks show that Nanjing Shenjiang Network Technology, in which Yinyongk has a stake of about 8 per cent, is owned by a man named Zhu Wenjun, the same voice as the owner of Bangbet's Kenyan domain name.

    Previously, Xi 'an Yinrui Network Technology Co., Ltd. had advertised for an overseas game operation position through Boss Zhipin, which stated in the competency requirement that the candidate should have fully participated in at least one mobile game project launched in North America (Casino type product preferred). But the job is now closed.

    YunRui network technology co., LTD., a hunan enterprise in certain online job overseas operations director (Africa), the job requirement, familiar with the overseas sports contest routine operations and overseas leisure slots (note: slot machines) operating strategy, understanding of local culture, African countries, especially the local sports quiz games, chess games. However, in the company's description, the job listing still used the name of Xi 'an Wren Rui.

    At Bangbet, the money is real. Bangbet includes betting on football, basketball, tennis and rugby, as well as the Chinese Super League and China's first division football league. In addition, the product also includes a number of casino games. Bets can be as high as 500,000 Kenyan shillings (about $4,573) and as low as 20 Kenyan shillings (about $0.18), according to the information.

    Zhang Xiaolei (not her real name) lived and worked in Africa for many years, and in her circle, word of mouth spread about Chinese gambling products there. As far as she knows, Bangbet is indeed from China. "Some Chinese companies that do online payments will know that," she said.

    Zhixiang has asked netease public relations department and Xi 'an Yunrui for confirmation, as of press time, has not received a response.

    $2 billion hot property

    While gambling is off-limits in China, Bangbet is legal in East Africa.

    Gambling is legal in Kenya as long as you obtain a licence from the Gaming Control and Licensing Board (BCLB), the regulator.

    The local government estimates that, in Kenya at least, gambling is a $2 billion business, yet only about 25 companies are competing for a share of the market.

    According to Al Jazeera, a survey by pollster Geopoll found that more than half of young people (17 to 35 years old) in sub-Saharan Africa have tried gambling, with the highest penetration rate being in Kenya, where the figure is 76 percent.

    The survey also found that Kenya has more millennials gambling than any other country in sub-Saharan Africa. They are also more gamblers, spending an average of $50 a month on betting, much of it on football matches. They spend most of their income on gambling, and the managing director of a large local brewery has even found that gambling has hurt alcohol sales.

    According to Noi Polls, a survey conducted last year in Nigeria showed that more than 60 million people between the ages of 18 and 40 gamble, or about a third of the population, according to The East Africa. They spend $2 billion a year on gambling, or 78 cents a day. In Nigeria, there are more than 50 gambling sites.

    A study by the Centre for Economic Policy Research in Kampala, Uganda's capital, found that about 45 per cent of male Ugandans aged 18 to 30 gambled, or about a quarter of all adults. The study also found that many gamblers do it as a means of earning a living rather than as a leisure activity.

    It is only in the past decade that Africans have fallen in love with online gambling, a process accelerated by the spread of smartphones. In the Geopoll survey, 96 percent of young people placed bets on their phones. Smartphones have become the Las Vegas of their pockets, seamlessly connected by smartphones, casinos and mobile payments. The African Exponent has argued that online gambling in Africa is leaping directly from the PC era to the mobile era.

    Smartphone penetration in Africa has been soaring for the past two years. According to the GSMA, smartphone penetration in Sub-Saharan Africa was 39 percent in 2018, and the GSMA expects this to increase to 67 percent by 2025. African e-commerce company Jumia is even more optimistic, predicting in its March IPO that smartphone penetration could reach 73 percent by 2022.

    Africa's demographic dividend is also there for all to see. With 1.25 billion people, Africa has the highest fertility rate of any continent. According to the United Nations, Africa will account for more than half of the world's population growth by 2050. Africa is also the youngest continent, with the median age on the continent at just 18, according to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's 2019 annual letter. As young people enter their reproductive years, this means that Africa will continue to provide the world with a large number of young people for years to come.

    The Chinese are coming

    In Africa, where gambling is legal and both locals and American and European investors are involved, domestic players are also eyeing the pie.

    On August 18, an anonymous investor even asked Kunlun publicly via Panorama whether it would consider obtaining legal online gambling licenses in African countries to generate long-term cash flow.

    In fact, Chinese investment has already entered the African continent. Liu Wenle (not his real name) has visited the market in Africa.

    "There are a lot of people doing it over there. "There are more Chinese residents in Nigeria and Kenya than in India," he said. "Africa is a different place. It is legal under the local law and someone will do it. Liu Wenle said.

    While online public offerings usually have access to third-party platforms to obtain data about them, online gambling has few third-party data sources available. According to Liu Wenle, the whole platform of the related products made by domestic companies in Africa has a monthly turnover of nearly ten million dollars.

    Liu Wenle added, "Nearly 10 million simply refers to the flow of water, the specific income is only clear to them."

    From the water level, most of them mainly come from football. "Nigerians, for the most part, are very much into football and they like to gamble on the line. Gambling water may not account for so much."

    Nor will an online-gambling product be available to a single country. "Basically what Kenya is doing, Nigeria is going to be doing. "Liu said.

    According to Zhang Xiaolei, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Zambia and other countries are more concentrated Chinese people to operate gambling, in addition to the online form, there are also Chinese people operating offline entity casinos in Africa.

    Some African countries are already grappling with the rise of online gambling, which brings them huge tax revenues and creates social problems such as gambling addiction.

    Uganda grew rapidly from 2011 to 2018 on the back of gaming tax revenues/BBC

    In Uganda, foreign investment in gambling has begun to be tightly controlled. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said publicly on social media that "foreign companies are not allowed to register gambling licences and will not renew them when the existing licences expire. All they are doing is making money from Ugandans and shipping them out of the country."

    Kenya is also regulating gambling with high taxes. According to overseas media reports, Kenya has passed a high tax of 35 percent on gambling revenues, in addition to a 30 percent corporate tax and a 25 percent allocation of betting to social good. After gambling companies threatened to pull out of the country, the government cut the gambling tax to 15 percent, then raised it again to 20 percent. Other restrictions, such as restrictions on advertising, have also been put in place.

    But it is hard to judge how such measures will affect Chinese access to Africa's gambling industry. According to Liu, "Uganda's market is limited after all. I've heard that Kenya has started to tighten up on licensing. Last year, they closed down some unlicensed ones or licensed ones that operate irregularly. There hasn't been a big change in Nigerian policy, so if you follow its procedures, you can still get a licence."

    Chinese capital actually has ways to get around this problem. According to Liu Wenle, the common practice for Chinese capital to enter the local gaming industry is to find local partners for joint ventures, and the Chinese need local people to solve problems such as registration and license application. Some local companies that have obtained licenses may sell their licenses through transfer.