People in Uganda just love sports. They have a particularly soft spot for football and top tier European competitions. In fact, you would rarely see them miss an English Premier League derby match and most of them are loyal supporters of some of EPL’s Top 6 teams.
When sports and football betting exploded in popularity around the world a couple of decades ago, Ugandans accepted that phenomenon wholeheartedly. They took to betting like a duck takes to water and have not looked back since.
Betting operators have been working in Uganda for quite some time and the country already has one of the most developed networks of offline betting providers in Africa.
What is more, all legal bookies are regulated by the National Gaming Board and these days there are more and more companies accepting online bets. This is something which is of particular interest for Ugandans at the moment as they have to spend more time at home due to Covid-19 lockdown measures imposed on them.
Not many Sports to Bet on
Online betting is great and it is fair to say that lockdown measures have made it even more popular with Ugandans. However, the same lockdown measures have also put most sports on hold. This has not been ideal for punters who have just discovered the benefits of placing bets while lying on their couch at home.
After all, there is not much use in having a top notch online betting app if you can only bet on Russian table tennis or low league darts matches.
It took around 3 months for the situation to slowly start improving and the big leagues and competitions to come back again.
However, even when regular sports are coming back they are still coming back one league at a time and this means that the sports betting offer is still quite small. Ugandan bettors who used to be able to choose from thousands of events every day are now limited to around 50 to 100 per day counting reserve leagues too.
eSports Have Filled the Void
This is where eSports have really helped. eSports are cyber gaming competitions in which players and teams compete against each other. They do this while playing games such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), Dota 2, Overwatch, League of Legends (LOL) and other popular games.
These are played every day and as such are much better propositions for betting enthusiasts than regular sports. This goes double when there are no regular sports and that’s currently the situation Ugandans find themselves in.
What is more, eSports betting is actually quite easy to do and comes with various wagering options. Ugandan punters can bet on the winner of a match, winner of a specific map, Over/Under kills, on handicap markets and many other betting propositions you would see with regular sports.
The fact that eSports are almost always on and are so similar to regular betting makes them perfect for the Ugandan bettor. As an added bonus, most of these matches can be seen live on Twitch, the streaming platform gamers use to stream eSports events.
Punters can sign up for a basic streaming package, which is quite affordable, and can easily watch all of their eSports matches live. This is something which is not always possible with regular sports. TV rights for these are quite expensive, so Ugandan broadcasters try to choose carefully which ones they televise.
Can this Trend Continue in the Future?
The whole Covid-19 situation and the expansion of eSports betting in Uganda have definitely made eSports more popular than regular sports betting for the time being.
However, it is easy to say that eSports betting is more popular when regular sports are not actually taking place. It will be interesting to see if this is still true when regular sports return to the scene in their full capacity.
Chances are that they will once again reclaim the throne, especially knowing how much Ugandans love them.
However, if someone told you that eSports would be where they are now before the Covid-19 disaster, you probably wouldn’t have believed them. That’s why, we should never discard the notion that betting on cyber sports might become more popular than wagering on regular sports. Especially not when we don’t know how long Covid-19 will paralyze our societies.