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Enhancing the Player Experience in South Africa

South Africa is a sports betting hotbed and the continent’s biggest gambling market, with their GGR expected to pass $2.3 billion by the end of 2023. With the country’s widespread love of sport it’s no wonder that sports betting is so popular here.

Despite the country’s legislative barricade of the Gambling Act of 1965, sports betting and online casinos are a thriving market in the country.

In 2022, just over 49% of the country’s population (around 30 million people) had bet on sports in the previous 12 months. And, 25% of the betting population in South Africa now bet multiple times a week.

According to TGM Research, when asked why they gamble, 35% of people in South Africa said they enjoy the experience of it. This was the second most popular reason, after, unsurprisingly, winning more money. 

With the online betting population placing such value on the player experience, it’s essential that operators make it a priority to retain their players as competition inevitably increases. Ensuring that the player experience is the best it can be requires having the right technology in place to do so.

Challenges facing the South African Market

As with any market, there are obstacles to overcome on your way to success within it. But given the opportunities that lie beyond them, it’s worth tackling those obstacles head on. Operators who have done so are already enjoying considerable market penetration in South Africa.

Below we outline some of the challenges that you’ll need to consider when trying to attract, engage and retain with your players.

Regulatory Position of Online Gambling

Despite South Africa’s National Gambling Act of 2004, which prohibits online gambling, online sports betting is allowed across the country.

Slots, draw games, and roulettes on licensed apps and websites are available and accessible. And many international online casinos still accept players from South Africa. 

It is an area that is thriving in the country when it comes to online betting. This is because operators have included numbers-style draw games in a way that meets regulations.

South Africa has a relatively complex regulatory system. The National Gaming Board oversees gambling across the country. But each of the seven provinces in the country has their own regulator. 

The consistency across the different provinces around regulation is somewhat blurred, with some being quicker to move against operators than others. If sports betting operators are trying to expand to new verticals, like online casinos, then they need to find a regulator sympathetic to their cause.

Security and Fraud

The risk of crime is something that businesses have to deal with in general, regardless of location or industry. And as the overall level of economic crime begins to decrease worldwide, it continues to grow in South Africa.

Throughout 2022 there was a significant increase in the risk of becoming a victim of fraud in the country.

Operators in the sports betting industry in South Africa need to be mindful of the higher risk in the region. Multiple account fraud, collusive play, chip dumping, stolen credit cards, and bonus or promotion abuse are all things to look out for.

Providers must invest in robust security measures (e.g. SOAR from Cyware) to protect player data and prevent fraudulent activity.

Player Preferences

Customers in any industry have ever changing wants and needs. And it is no different for players in the sports betting market in South Africa.

The regions and demographics will all have different betting habits. Including different interests in games, sports, types of bets, and reasons for betting in the first place.

Just taking the amount of different sports a person wants to bet on is a lot in itself. Let alone the types of promotions that interest them and where they do their gambling.

Given the betting population of the country, the spread of it, and the various interests involved, there is a challenge in understanding player preferences.


Advancements in technology means that online experiences in general have become a much slicker experience. However, parts of South Africa are still playing catch up in a lot of cases.

While just over 90% of South African gamblers use the internet and mobile apps to bet, the majority of them don’t have the latest smartphones. In fact, only around 40% of the country’s population have smartphones.

60% of mobile subscriptions use 3G, and even 4% use 2G. Although the government is beginning to upgrade the networks, and plans to sunset 2G and 3G by 2025, that’s still two years (assuming there are no delays) of unreliable mobile internet usage. With players becoming increasingly frustrated at the speed of their gaming experience, now is the time for operators to prepare to deliver a faster and more seamless journey for their customers, to ensure they are driving loyalty and retention ahead of the competition.

Despite the challenges with data and internet speed in the region, the vast majority of online gambling is done through mobile devices. Mobile is still where the future of online gambling lies and companies need a mobile-first strategy to succeed in this market.

Operators must ensure that they tailor their product to suit the requirements of tech in the country. Make it as easy as possible for your players to use your app or mobile website, and make it easier on the operator side to run everything smoothly. Keep engagement functionalities and the country’s mobile data in mind when it comes to the customer experience. 

Role of a Customer Engagement Platform in Creating an Exceptional Player Experience

Given the challenges, a mobile only strategy won’t necessarily result in a commanding market share in South Africa. 

Rather, operators should be identifying the most effective channels to create a rewarding and personalised experience for their players. 

SMS has been the most used and historically dominant channel in the country for customer engagement. But as infrastructure increases and cost of mobile data decreases, operators can start to move towards an omnichannel approach. 

This means that the likes of mobile push, web push, email, and sms can all be utilised at the right times. It’s all about understanding the market and your customers.

Using an omnichannel customer engagement platform allows operators to communicate and engage with players in real-time, creating a personalised experience. 

The good news is that technology like customer engagement platforms sit outside of the website or app, they just utilise the data to the greatest effect. So operators can provide a market leading player experience no matter what technology is being used to access their website or app.

Use Your Player Data

The data you use in your player engagement campaigns can heavily influence how they perform. Consolidating your data under one roof using a customer engagement platform with a CDP makes it much easier to manage your data. By doing so you will be able to get a deeper understanding of your customers and their preferences.

Operators have a greater opportunity to provide relevant content and send personalised promotions off the back of this too.

The more data operators can collect, the more personalised campaigns can become and the player experience becomes far richer. Transactional, behavioural, and demographical data can all help to build out customer profiles and send them communications of greatest interest.

Segmenting Customers

Segmenting the data you harvest is the next step to understanding and communicating with your players. The more segments you can identify, the more granular the player profiles become.

As such, operators are wise to collect as many data points as they can to build a complete picture. Understanding what games players prefer, average deposit and bet etc can also help to shape the offering players are presented with.

A detailed, deeply segmented single customer view facilitates personalised communication. The more relevant those communications are, the greater the levels of engagement and the better the chances players will continue to spend with you.


Personalisation for your players isn’t just using their name or knowing when their birthday is. But showing the customer things similar to what they have shown interest in in the past.

Knowing where someone abandoned a betting slip or left your app during the betting process can trigger a campaign. And better yet, a campaign that is directly applicable to their experience with you.

A customer engagement platform will allow you to identify these events and create campaign templates that can reduce abandonment. Leverage the customer data you have and you’ll start to realise the benefits of going beyond a first name basis.

Customer Support

A large part of providing an excellent player experience includes supporting them if they run into difficulty. It only takes one bad experience with an operator to cause players to look elsewhere. This is why your customer support is so important.

You need to ensure that your teams and systems are in place and ready to handle any issues the customer may face.

Your customer engagement platform will help you to identify the best channel to reach out to a customer through when it comes to this type of communication. Operators who provide multiple channels will not only demonstrate a deeper understanding of customer needs but overcome local infrastructure issues.

This plays a massive role in retaining your players. If things go wrong and are not resolved you might see your customers go to one of your competitors.

The other side of a robust customer support process is validation. Fraud is a major challenge for any business in South Africa, let alone sports betting and gaming. Fraud in South Africa is 27% higher than the global average, costing the economy $12.8 billion.

Leveraging a customer engagement platform to catch failed validations can ensure that everyone who is using the site or the app are who they say they are.

The intelligence built in with an integrated CDP can also help to identify problem/fraudulent behaviours before they can become dangerous.

Cross selling and Upselling

Identifying opportunities for your players to experience something new in your business that is also relevant to them is important for retention. 

It’s likely that you will have something to offer that your players might love, but they just don’t know about. It’s up to you and your CRM to identify new games, sports, or anything along those lines that might interest a player. Then, communicate it to them in a way that is personalised and relevant to their experience.

Stay Consistent

Consistency is key when it comes to using a CRM to understand and engage your customers on a deeper level. With experience held in such a high regard for the South African betting population you need to make sure it doesn’t fall off your radar.

A lot of challenges in the territory can be made a whole lot easier by investing in the right tech.

If you want to know more about how Xtremepush helps sports betting and gaming brands understand and engage with their players effectively, book a chat with us here.

Click to download our guide to increasing eCommerce conversions and retention.

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