Betting Houses, Football’s New Born Ventures




New businesses including betting where people predict soccer match results and place a wager on the outcome, enabling many to earn from thousands to hundreds of millions of dollars in a single game. As an emerging new trend, the Capital has seen the opening of 10 betting houses in the past one and half year alone, reports HAWI ABDISA, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.


The 28-year-old mechanic, Tewodros Mesfin, whose name has been changed upon request, discovered last year that people can make money from betting a wager on the outcome of a football match.

Before realising his new favourite, Tewodros used to spend much of his leisure time in the church and hanging around with friends.

“My experience of watching football for seven years has enabled me to precisely forecast the winner of a match,” he said. “That’s why I confidently bet on any game that ought to be interesting.”

Tewodros usually goes to Habesha and Axum betting houses, located inside Gotera condominium site, three times a week to place a bet on the match that interests him.

This has been the scenario not only for Tewodros but also for many football lovers globally. People recognised the benefits of betting to make a huge amount of money from matches in a short period. This is mainly attributed to the astonishing growth in the fans of football, which has doubled in the past decade.

The number of football fans increased to 3.5 billion in 2017- close to half of the global population, according to Most Sport, a website which provides statistical information about sports activities. This makes it the most revered sports in the world followed by Cricket and Hockey.

Among the football lovers, about 65pc of them reside in 57 countries including Ethiopia, the same source indicated. In line with such fame, sports is becoming a business worth multi-billion dollars of investment throughout the world.

In the next five years, the global gambling market including betting could be worth over half a billion dollars, according to research by Dublin-based Research and Markets.

In the next five years, the global gambling market including betting could be worth over half a billion dollars, according to research by Dublin-based Research and Markets.



In Africa, countries like Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa are observing a massive expansion in sports betting. Many entrepreneurs and foreign companies are enclosing millions owing to the betting boom.

In neighbouring country Kenya alone, more than 20 local and international firms opened their doors to give betting services in the past three years, making it home to the third-largest betting market in Africa next to South Africa and Nigeria.

Mensur Abdulkeni who has a two-decade experience in football journalism explains that the experiences of Kenya and Uganda have positively contributed to the flourishment of betting businesses in Ethiopia.

“Betting houses in Kenya have proven that the business is a very profitable one. The success of these houses in Kenya can be seen by the experience of Sportpesa- currently sponsoring Everton football club paying as much as 6.5 million euros,” he said.

Betting has also become a source of income for big and small businesses that are solely dependent on its existence. The same trends hold true in Ethiopia as well.

As of now, there are 10 betting companies in Ethiopia, according to National Lottery Administration (NLA), which shares 15pc of the companies’ profits as a royalty fee.

Axum Betting is the pioneer betting company in the country. The company was established one and half a year ago with a capital of a million Birr and operates using betting platforms rented from an international company.

“The business has been widely practised for decades globally unlike Ethiopia, which started to witness many of such enterprises this year,” Abraham Teklemariam, deputy manager of Axum, told Fortune. “It is a very young market.”

Mensur Abdulkeni who has a two-decade experience in football journalism explains that the experiences of Kenya and Uganda have positively contributed to the flourishment of betting businesses in Ethiopia.



Although Axum is busy with bets placed on football matches, comprising for 99pc of its business, it also provides betting services to fans interested in basketball, tennis and horse races.

Starting the business in its outlet located in front of Awraris Hotel on Djibouti Street, the company currently has widened its horizon with the opening of 12 branches in different parts of the city including at Gotera, Qera, Saris and Gerji.

The business of the company usually booms during the active period of English premier league- the most watched sports league globally with over four billion audiences- as watching such leagues is considered to be one of the main leisure activities for many youths in the country, accounting to 45pc of the population.

At Axum, anyone can place a bet between the range of 20 Br and a quarter of a billion Birr online and offline. In most football competitions, bettors have 50pc of winning probability if they bet on one of the team. But the chance of winning closes 66pc if bettors wag on the drawing of the two teams. There are between 50 and 70 options to put a bet on a single match.

If the team of the bettor wins the game, the payout varies depending on the odds given by the platform of the company. The odd allows the competitors to calculate the winning amount on the bet.

“The platform analyses each game and the performance of the teams whenever posting the odds of the bettors,” said Abraham, who serves an average of 60 customers a week. “The higher the odds, the lesser the chance of winning the game.”

This also works for Habesha Betting, which joined the business four months ago and managed to grab the attention of 30 customers every week since its establishment.

Habesha now has five branches in Addis and have a long-term plan of setting up the houses at different Hotels interested in the deal.

“This helps us get the attention of individuals with high incomes,” said Fasil Berek, manager at Habesha’s Gotera branch. “This will also help us to broaden our network and advance more in the market.”

Like Axum, Habesha provides betting services through a system rented from an international company, National Sports Betting.

This, however, does not apply to every business. Hulu Sports Betting has developed an in-house system. The system’s interface is in the Amharic language making it more accessible for the larger portion of the society.

The company had done a market assessment for a year before opening its office seven months ago along Djibouti Street near to Axum Betting. The company is currently recruiting field agents to gain a competitive edge and advance in the market.

“The agents will be assigned in areas where the demand is very high,” Million Tekeste, deputy manager and head of Marketing at the company.

Nonetheless, despite the blooming pictures, for Tewdros, the growth in the business comes with its costs.

“It will turn into addiction if people fail to control it,” said Tewodros, who has won as high as 8,000 Br in a single game. “I see people who suffer from social life disorders after being addicted.”

By HAWI ABDISA
FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.





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