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France – Sports betting, online gaming, horseracing and poker on the up in France

By - 7 March 2019

There’s been a spectacular rise in French sports betting in 2018 according to the ARJEL (the Regulatory Authority of Online Gaming) annual report, however, the sector is still fragile.

Online gambling saw an increase in gross gaming revenue of 25 per cent in 2018, generating a total amount of €1.205bn and an increase of 40 per cent in the number of player accounts compared to 2017, which came in at 2,663,000, according to ARJEL in its annual report.

This increase was due to the effect of the World Cup on sports betting although there was a much broader positive trend. ARJEL said : “For the second consecutive year there is an increase in the three segments of regulated games, both on the bets, the gross product of the games and the numbers of players. These results are due to the dynamism and attractiveness of the market, and are all the more satisfying for the regulator as they are accompanied by a decrease in average spending per player. This means that online gambling remains essentially within the reasonable limits of a recreational game and that for example for sports betting the growth of the GGR is not due to an intensification of the game but well to the increase in the number of players. However we are aware that behind the figures, elements of fragility remain and we must not lower our guard.”

For the first time in 2018, the sports betting revenue was higher than the combined revenues of other gambling segments. Generating €3.9bn in bets, sport betting activity was up 56 per cent compared to 2017, the highest annual increase since the opening of the market in 2010. Of course, the Football World Cup partly explains these record figures but there is room for improvement beyond major events, as shown by the good fourth quarter results.

Poker benefited in 2018 from the implementation of international tables: bets committed on cash game tables and generated €4.2bn an increase of 15 per cent compared to 2017. Unquestionably, the opening of international liquidity, supported by the regulator and the operators for several years, has made the French poker offer more attractive. It will be necessary to consolidate this evolution that new partners join the hard core of origin, Spain, Portugal and France.

Horse betting was also up for the second consecutive year: with just over 1bn bets placed generating revenues of €256m and an increase in the number of bettors of 12 per cent.

ARJEL said: “The decline in the pace of growth in bets and the two per cent reduction in the number of active players accounts in the last quarter, after a six per cent increase in bets on the first three quarters remains a cause for concern. A relative fragility remains.»

However ARJEL has decided to focus on three points in particular. It said: “We plan to monitor the evolution of player spending: for the first time this year, the market analysis report introduces an estimate of the number of players in 2017 and 2018. The approach, without disrupting the results, allows a finer and more precise follow-up. The average spend per player was €504 per year in 2017; it stands at €452 in 2018. Part of the explanation for the decline is due to the exceptional Football World Cup effect and the influx of new players, most of them small spenders.”

It wants to ‘disseminate prevention messages upstream, before bad practices take hold.’

It explained: “On the occasion of the Football World Cup, the ARJEL launched a campaign “Betting must remain a game”: the aim of the operation was to create an early awareness of the player, while minimizing risk through a humorous approach and some practical advice, easy to implement. A similar operation is scheduled for 2019. ”

Finally, it wants to ‘alert the messages conveyed by some sites prognoses.’

“This activity challenges the regulator when it diffuses and reinforces false beliefs that combine gambling and easy money. Some of these sites suggest that one can live on his gains thanks to an expertise that the player gets against money and on the basis of performance claimed but mostly unverifiable.,” ARJEl explained.

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