Ethiopia has caught gambling fever
Ethiopia was until recently a laggard. Addis Ababa had a hotel casino in the time of Emperor Haile Selassie, but this was closed by the Marxist junta known as the Derg in the 1980s. Its successor, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, shared the Derg’s suspicion of gambling. The first betting licence was not granted until 2013 and the market remained mostly empty until 2016. Foreign firms are still prohibited. 'Recent improvements in Ethiopia’s telecoms infrastructure help explain the boom. “Without internet you couldn’t do anything,” says Michael Demissew of Abyssinia Bet, a gambling firm that uses mobile money. The government has also softened its stance since the appointment of Abiy Ahmed, the relatively liberal prime minister, last year. It has allowed gambling advertisements on radio and television and may soon permit casinos. It is motivated by the potential for new tax revenue, says Sophonias.