Many years ago, the casino industry made a bid for Uganda, but the lavish lifestyle associated with playing at casinos wasn’t well received, and the three casinos that opened in the country closed within months of opening.
To this day, only four land-based casinos remain in Uganda, and their operations remain small-scale. Is there any hope for the casino industry in Uganda?
The gambling industry is a huge market across the globe, with experts estimating it to be worth $423 billion, employing hundreds of thousands of people every year.
In a developing country like Uganda, an industry that employs so many people should be quite welcome, but to this day, casinos have made very little progress.
Much of this is due to the digital divide experienced by Ugandans. In the past few decades, casinos have seen a shift into more advanced mobile technology.
With Intercasino’s launch in 1996, online gambling was born, and the market is now expected to continue to grow to over $40 billion by 2015. Casinos are now breaking into newer markets with online gambling websites and apps – things that Ugandans just don’t have access to… at least, not yet.
The smartphone revolution was late to start in Uganda and East Africa, but it’s certainly making waves now. Although not quite used for recreational activities yet, smartphones have, in the past, been used by farmers to access information about their crops and livestock.
Even this use, however, has been extremely limited, with only one elder in every village being given access to the smartphone in question.
While smartphones are only slowly making gains in East Africa, mobile phones are a different story, as the region has one of the fastest-growing mobile markets to date.
Other notable establishments have begun to use mobile technology to their advantage, making use of the growing need for connectivity to attract more people to their businesses, and releasing apps that work on basic or feature phones.
For casinos to be profitable in the Ugandan and East African market, they need to shift their focus from the smartphone industry, to the mobile industry.
Contrary to popular belief, there is a growing interest in gambling in the country, particularly in poker. Many different charities have found success in the area by launching efforts associated with poker, such as the Heart and Hope for Uganda Poker Tournament, an annual WSOP-style poker tourney that raised $4,600 on its first year.
A growing interest in gambling and poker should be nicely complimented by more gambling options in the country, and if the casino industry wants to make a bid for the Ugandan market, there’s no better time than now.