Senegal Sports Betting
Roger Caillois in his 1958 treatise on games, titled Man, Play and Games, describes gambling as an aléa type (games of chance) of game which sometimes has some element of agon (games of competition). In describing the pervasiveness and need for regulation of games, he drew from the ancient dice game, Abbia, where people sometimes wagered their wives, and chiefs will start wars by wagering their chiefdoms, out of addiction and the desire to best the competition. That in a nutshell, contextualises Africa’s gaming environment and whatever structures exist today as regulators.
Senegal is a West African country with a population just over 15 million, and an ancient colony of France. The majority ethnic group and language is Wolof, and the country is 96% Islamic. It therefore hits as a shocker to know the country as a gambling nation, given Islam’s wholehearted ban on gambling. The country, religion be damned, is definitely a gambling country, with a quasi total control of the activity by the government.
This big brother approach by the government suggests a political and economic motive, as gambling in Africa for most countries is more a source of government income, firstly as a tax on the population, which they are all too willing to pay, and a tax on the companies that strike deals to bring their games to the countries.
Senegal’s gambling scene in controlled by the government-owned Senegalese National Lottery (LONASE), which opened on the 30th of December, 1996, as a private company, before being nationalised in 1987 by Law (law 87/48 of 28 December). Gambling became a nationwide sensation with the nationalisation of LONASE, and a growing feeling of getting a slice of government money was and still is very appealing to the population, especially for the poor and less privileged economic classes who see this as their ‘golden ticket’ to wealth.
It requires no physical work and is not overly expensive, yet gambling is easily addictive, one of the reasons why the government believes total control is needed, to curb excesses.
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Senegal betting safety and legality
The LONASE has a newly-implemented website, but does not share much of its inner workings on the site. However, the institution boasts an ISO-9001 quality certificate, and an ISO-27001 coupled with WLA-SCS as safety certificates, the first West-African state-run institution to have them.
The LONASE’s interpretation of responsible and safe gaming follows the World Lottery Association (WLA) guidelines, and centers around:
- Protecting minors (below 18 years of age)
- Sensitization of subscribers/gamblers/players on the harm of excessive play
The institution works on a prevention policy, which operates on three objectives:
- Reducing the negative effects of excessive gambling
- Creating an environment where players gamble responsibly
- Establish a policy that is the foundation of responsible gaming laws and practices
Senegalese favorite sports to bet on
The most common form of gambling in Senegal and one of the oldest (in French-speaking Africa) is horseracing under the French-owned Pari Mutuel Urbaine (PMU). Casino games are very much present but are not accessible to most of the population, at least not legally.
However, the PMU is being overshadowed by football gambling, which is more reflective of the growing interest of youths in gaming and the global nature and appeal of football. PremierBet is one of the leading names in football gambling in French-speaking Africa, and the most popular in the country.
Payment Options for senegalese bettors
Senegal only recently signed a five-year contract with private company SENEJEUX, to bring virtual gaming to the country. This, however, does not mean virtual gaming has not existed in the country, owing to little online censoring. Payment is done in cash wherever the games are bid on, and in the near future, will go mobile.
Gambling may very well be criticised as the government preying on the hopes and desire for a quick buck, but still it takes two to tango, and the people don’t seem to mind this kind of extortion, as long as it gives them a shot at a pot of gold.