Project Year



East Africa



Project Description

The extensive growth of sports betting in sub-Saharan Africa has been enabled by technological innovations and permitted or encouraged by local governments that are eager for new sources of tax revenue. Given the large population of participants as well as the intensity of bettors’ involvement sports betting has considerable economic significance on both national and household levels. Even as the first wave of betting expansion through betting shops and consoles are taking place, another wave is already building momentum through mobile phone based betting applications. As of now, there exist no rigorous empirical analyses of the causes of high intensity betting and the implications for financial management decisions of the poor in developing countries. This project is an effort to fill in this gap in the empirical economics literature with a study based in Kampala, Uganda. The study will center on creation of a nine-week panel data set capturing weekly variation in betting participation, micro-enterprise production, mobile betting expansion, and household consumption. The study also aims to examine the daily money management challenges of micro-enterprise owners in Kampala and to observe the distortionary impact that betting has on both the productive and consumptive decisions of its participants. Focus group discussions and observation of betting locations will be used to complement the quantitative analysis. Finally, the project will look closely at the concurrent expansions of mobile based financial services alongside mobile based betting platforms to examine their interaction and impact.


Sylvan Herskowitz

About the Researcher

herskovitz_2015Sylvan Herskowitz is a PhD candidate in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. He has lived and worked extensively in Africa including time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger from '06-'08.  Sylvan's research projects span a range of topics and settings including marriage market reactions to weather shocks in Indonesia, firm response to violence in Afghanistan, and statistical discrimination in the textiles industry in Kenya.

 Link to the blogpost: Understanding the Spread of Sports Betting in Uganda


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