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France – ARJEL report strong growth in 2019

By - 24 February 2020

Despite a year without major sporting events, 2019 proved a good year for online games according to French regulator ARJEL.

ARJEL published its quarterly analysis for Q4 2019, reporting that the three sectors it regulates experienced growth last year. The number of unique players has increased by five per cent and now stands at 2.8 million. Active player accounts who engaged in at least one game action during the period also increased by seven per cent (4,174,000). The number of active player accounts over a week increased by 23 per cent in Q4 and 18 per cent (to 919,000) over the year.

“Activity growth is greatest in the online sports betting segment, the sector in which the betting population has also increased the most,” noted ARJEL.

The turnover of the online sports betting market represented 62 per cent of the total turnover of the online games market opened to competition in 2019, compared to 57 per cent in 2018.

In 2019, sports betting exceeds five billion euros, the largest amount of activity in a calendar year. The challenges of the activity are growing by 30 per cent compared to 2018, which represents an increase of more than a billion euros in stakes. The progression of the stakes is however lower than that noted in 2018 (up 56 per cent). The progress of the 2018 Football World Cup had attracted a volume of bets (382 million euros) which had no equivalent in 2019.

The activity’s annual Gross Game Product grew at a rate approaching that of bets (up 27 per cent). This amounted to 880 million euros, the highest turnover recorded in a calendar year.

The fourth quarter contributed strongly to growth for the whole year. The stakes were higher compared to the fourth quarter 2018. The bets recorded in the activity reached 1.5 billion euros, representing a contribution of 30 per cent to the stakes of the year. This volume of stakes corresponds to the highest amount recorded in a quarter since the opening of the market.

Gross Game Revenue for the quarter increased seven per cent. The difference in growth between the progression of the PBJ and that of the bets (up 42 per cent) results from the increase of 5.3 points in the Rate of Return to Players (TRJ) after bonus. At the end of 2018, sports betting operators had limited their offer in order to respect the maximum proportion of sums paid to players set at 85 per cent over a year. Due to less pressure in 2019, operators were able to offer more attractive odds. In addition, the results of certain sports events were very unfavourable to operators, which impacted the level of the TRJ.

The FDJ reported an increase of more than 10 per cent in the bets placed on the recording stations operated by the operator holding exclusive rights. The horse racing online market is growing for the third consecutive year. The challenges brought together in horse racing amounted to 1,106 million euros, representing a growth of five per cent compared to the challenges involved in the activity in 2018. The pace of progression of bets in 2019 is similar to that recorded in 2018.

The weekly average of CJA grew at a rate almost equivalent to the bets. Nearly 146,000 player accounts placed bets each week in activity against 138,000 in 2018, which represents a growth of six per cent. Activity in the fourth quarter of 2019 increased at a rate equivalent to that recorded in the third quarter of 2019. The stakes over the period increased by seven per cent and reached 294 million euros, an amount not placed on the horse betting market for almost seven years.

The turnover of horse racing betting operators grew in the same proportions as the stakes (up seven per cent) and reached 72 million euros. The regulator specified that following the decision to revoke the accreditation in horse racing betting of the operator Beturf, decided by the College of ARJEL in September 2019, this segment of games had one operator less at the end of the year. Thus, seven companies now have an authorisation to offer online betting on horse racing.

Finally, the turnover of online poker activity amounted to 272 million euros in 2019 against 258 million euros in 2018. It therefore increased by six per cent, an increase of one point higher than in 2018. At the same time, the average number of active players per week increased by eight per cent in 2019. This development is twice as high as that observed in the first half of 2019, which attests to a significant increase in the number of players of poker in the second half of 2019.

Over the whole of 2019, an average of 269,500 player accounts participated in poker games every week, compared to 249,000 last year over the period. The growth in activity recorded in the fourth quarter in this segment of the game clearly contributed to the growth noted throughout the year. Indeed, the PBJ of activity grew up to 18 per cent over the period, the quarterly change in turnover the largest in almost eight years. This growth is mainly driven by the dynamics of tournaments. Indeed, the PBJ increased by 22 per cent in this segment of poker. It also increased in notable proportions in cash game (up nine per cent), which contrasts with previous quarters. The growth in poker activity produced a five per cent increase in levies in the sector, which rose from 82 to 86 million euros.

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