Sports Gaming is booming in Africa! Increasing internet penetration, the popularity of smartphones and online payment systems drives the growth of online gaming. Simultaneously, through technology people are more connected than ever and so consumers expect brands, especially gaming brands, to behave responsibly and be authentic in their commitment to act in the best interest of their customers. Due to these brand pressures corporates must get up to speed and translate the growth of online gaming into socio-economic gains which ensure consumers are adequately protected. This can be by adopting a shared-value approach which is good for sponsors, sponsor recipients, communities and the economy. Responsible gaming and valuable sponsorships are key conversations within the industry.
SportPesa’s Chief Marketing Officer, Kelvin Twissa, answers some key questions when it comes to businesses’ role in responsible sports gaming and how to create shared value through sponsorships:
1. What is the importance of a business’s social responsibility, especially within the online sports gaming industry?
As companies grow and become more successful, the opportunity to share that success with society will become available. Growing businesses therefore need to look at ways to invest in social projects and initiatives as their customers, the community, are indeed the lifeblood of the business. Mutually beneficial investment is a key driver for companies to be committed to acting as a good citizen for all their stakeholders. Looking at the industry, there are a lot of opportunities for social responsibility within the sport community, and as companies within the industry grow, so should their commitment to grassroot sports and helping the communities in which they operate. As a major player in sports and online sports gaming across two continents, SportPesa has an opportunity and a duty to use our influence for societal wellbeing – and local communities in particular. We want everybody to benefit from the positive attitudes that typify sport. That means working with partners, sports clubs and other organisations to help people and communities make the most of their talents and help them take real steps towards fulfilling their dreams.
Under the banner of corporate social responsibility, we play our part through actions rather than words. Instead of a top-down proscriptive approach, we focus our efforts at a local level. We give our local SportPesa teams the freedom to identify issues and support initiatives that can make a real difference at the grassroots.
2. How do you promote responsible sports gaming to safeguarding consumers from the negative consequences of gambling / sports gaming?
On the tech front, as countries create their own legal sports gaming industries, every gaming company will need to rely on technology platforms that prevent fraud, interstate gaming, and underage gambling to remain compliant. It is not enough to give customers the opportunity to be winners – companies need to do that in an environment that is safe and secure, and which promotes responsible betting. There should be systems in place to detect any sign of problem gaming (urge to play continuously despite harmful negative consequences) at the earliest possible stage, thereby allowing the company to take appropriate action and help protect their customers. As mentioned, customers are the lifeblood of online sports gaming business and so, it is not only fair, but makes good business sense for them to be respected. This includes being strong advocates of responsible gaming. It is also important and valuable to offer winners legal and financial advice to help them use their winnings in the most prudent way. Furthermore, companies can support legal bodies, government and advertising standards to protect the customers, especially underaged or young participants. Educational programmes for responsible gambling should also be implemented.
From SportPesa’s perspective, our responsible gambling initiatives cover these areas:
- Firstly, we work alongside regulatory bodies in all of our markets to make sure we always enhance fans’ enjoyment of sport.
- We also partner with non-governmental organisations to ensure that all our marketing material fully complies with best practice as well as the relevant guidelines on responsible betting.
- In addition, we do all we can to protect minors and carry out stringent checks to make sure that those who are legally barred from playing are not allowed to do so. In fact, our systems are specifically designed to protect the more vulnerable members of society – for example, by supporting people who want to self-exclude or only play up to a set maximum per day.
- Lastly, if you win a high value bet on our platform, we do not release the winners’ funds unless they have met with a financial adviser on how to manage the new income and avoid the “lottery effect”.
3. What is the role of corporates (especially sports gaming companies) in the growth and development of the Kenyan economy and its people?
Africa is home to a number of sports gaming advocates that creates job opportunities for a large number of young Africans while enabling bettors to make money, salaries and winnings generating tax revenue for the government, which increase as the company grows, and contribute to the economic growth of African countries. Companies within the sport industry also contribute to the promotion and development of Kenyan sports.
SportPesa is proud to support and sponsor Fatuma Zarika, Kenya’s World Boxing Council (WBC) super bantamweight champion and inspiration to all of us. From a struggling background to fame, Zarika is the perfect example of how companies can support individuals to make their dreams come true. We commit to play an integral role in the growth and development of the Kenyan economy and its people. We have grown from relatively humble African origins – and we aim to help those less fortunate than ourselves do the same.
4. How can a corporate create shared value through sponsorships to drive socio-economic development?
Corporate and growing businesses have the opportunity and the responsibility to demonstrate their commitment to the upliftment of Kenya. This can take the form of and the contribution to the community by means of sport development sponsorships, programmes and projects to improve and enrich the communities in which they operate.
Sponsors are more impactful when taking advantage of a purpose-driven approach than taking an onlyfor-profit view. A shared-value approach is good for sponsors, for those sponsored, society and the environment. SportPesa is loyal to sport development with international partners, but true to SportPesa’s heritage, many of our sponsorship initiatives are delivered in Africa.
We aim to help those less fortunate than ourselves do the same. Together with Arsenal and our other UK partners, we strive to bring global football skills to our partners in Africa through player and coach training sessions and initiatives. ‘Coaches to Count on’ will be a another initiative we are planning for 2019. This goes hand in hand with our mission to help develop the game of football across the African continent. Soccer is a huge part of our investment and we are committed to creating opportunities within the soccer ecosystem.
With this said, SportPesa supports the Premier League in Kenya and is the official title sponsor of the Federation of Kenya Football Shield tournament which provides an invaluable opportunity for the teams to showcase their talent. Furthermore, we have been running an initiative called ‘Kits4Africa’ that encourages football fans to donate their old kit to underprivileged, grassroots teams across Africa.
This encourages sport development for young learners and highlight the importance of exercise for mental and physical health. While we offer valuable financial support within partnerships and sponsorships, we also go much further, helping clubs build capacity and join corporate social responsibility initiatives in order to create value for players, teams, communities and businesses. The job to drive socio-economic development is not the responsibility of one organisation or individual, but together we can make a difference and make it count!