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Sunbet Launches in South Africa
Friday November 22 ,2013 : NEW SOUTH AFRICAN SPORTS BETTING SITE
Sun International has launched a new sports betting platform, branded Sunbet.
The Sun International hotel and casino group identified sports betting as a market with growth potential earlier this year, acquiring Powerbet Gaming, which owned and operated Voltbet.com, for Rands 30 million.
Voltbet has now been rebranded as Sunbet and relaunched, with Sun International exec Michael Farr saying Thursday that it would be marketed to South Africans, and would help accelerate the group’s entry into online gaming.
"The sports betting industry is in its infancy and offers high growth potential," Farr said at the relaunch in Johannesburg.
"It seems likely that, in time, online gaming will be legalised in South Africa and we believe this business will position us well for when this happens, both in terms of track record and in understanding our guests’ online preferences."
In South Africa it is still illegal to gamble online with the exception of sports betting, although a legalisation measure has been batted about by politicians for years after extensive research and discussion on the issue.
The National Gambling Amendment Act of 2008 legalised interactive gambling but has not yet been adopted, and questions remain on how online gambling will be regulated.
"Many South Africans would like to bet on their favourite teams or individuals, but don’t necessarily gamble in [land] casinos. Sunbet gives them the platform to do just that," said Farr.
The Business Day newspaper reports that a study by the independent business services group PwC titled Gambling Outlook Report for 2013-17, found that sports betting is becoming increasingly popular in South Africa, with gross gambling revenue rising 71.3 percent in 2012.
Between 2009 and 2012, gross gambling revenue for sports events rose 566 percent, compared with a 16 percent increase for horse racing in the same period.
Sports betting, with horse racing included, accounted for 12 percent, or Rands 2.6 billion, of the total SA gambling revenue in 2012 of Rands 20.9 billion, second only to casino gambling, which contributed Rands16.4 billion in the same year.
There are now more than 400 betting shops and more than 300 sports books in South Africa. It is expected that within the next five years, wagering on sporting events will overtake betting on horse racing.
Sunbet will also allow South Africans to bet on non-sports competitive events such as Idols, the television reality show.
"We will give customers the option to bet in current pop culture, betting on odds like ‘Who will win the 2013 Pop Idols?’ or ‘What colour dress will Charlize wear to the Oscars?’" Farr said.
Sunbet will offer sports betting in rugby, cricket, soccer, tennis and US sports, as well as English football, and negotiations are under way to include horse racing.
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