Digital growth pushes FDJ sales to €15.8bn in 2018

18 January 2019

French gaming operator La Française des Jeux (FDJ) has reported a 4.4% year-on-year increase in amounts wagered by players in 2018, with the operator bolstered by increased online sales and sports betting activity.

Total stakes rose to €15.8bn (£13.9bn/$18.0bn), with the operator’s core lottery business unit reporting a 1.1% rise in sales to €12.8bn. This was driven by a 3.2% increase in instant win game stakes to €7.7bn, helping offset a 1.9% year-on-year decline in draw-based game sales to €5.1bn.

Sports betting sales rose 21.0% to €3.0bn for the year.

"The continued growth in player stakes reflects the good execution of our FDJ 2020 strategy around areas such as innovation and digital, enhancing the appeal of our games and distribution channels,” FDJ chairman and chief executive Stéphane Pallez said.

“2018 has been characterised by numerous successes, notably Mission Patrimoine games, illustrating FDJ’s redistribution model,” she continued. “These results underpin our ambition to anticipate changes in the gaming and entertainment sector to increase the Group's leadership with richer and innovative gaming experiences”.

The vertical was boosted by the launch of Mission Patrimoine, designed to raise money for heritage projects across France, which went live with a limited edition game that attracted €172m in stakes alone. FDJ also revamped the umbrella brand for its instants offering, illiko, as well as rolling out new titles such as Black Jack, Maxi Goal! and Morpion.

Though draw-based game sales fell year-on-year, FDJ noted that digital sales were up 12%, with around 1.9 million registered digital clients by the end of the year.

The operator said that this growth had been driven by its FDJ 2020 strategy, which will see €500m invested in enhancing its digital offering between 2015 and 2020. In 2018 a total of €100m was invested as part of the strategy, taking the total spend since the launch of the plan to €400m.

Digital player stakes rose 45.5% to €2.4bn in 2018, with the channel now accounting for 15% of total sales, putting the operator on track to generate 20% of all sales through digital channels by 2020.

This digital growth was aided by the launch of a new app through which players can access all draw-based and instant games, as well as a revamp of the site to optimise it for mobile devices.

FDJ also benefitted from the 2018 Fifa World Cup, which was won by the French national team. Total sports betting stakes were up 21.0% from 2017 to €3.0bn, with €333m wagered on the World Cup alone, up 75% from the 2014 tournament.

Digital stakes were up 60.4% year-on-year to €1.8bn, meaning online accounted for 60% of all amounts wagered, compared to 46% in 2017. Aside from the World Cup, FDJ noted that its ParionSport brand benefitted from efforts to enhance its wagering offering, and boosted customer awareness through partnerships with Ligue 1 clubs Olympique de Marseille, Olympique Lyonnais, AS Monaco, and FC Nantes.

The FDJ 2020 strategy saw enhancements made to the ParionsSport mobile app, as well as the roll-out of more than 1,000 electronic wagering terminals across the operator’s retail network.

Looking ahead, the operator will follow the launch of an instant win tie-in to TV show Face au Mur earlier this month with a new Mission Patrimoine games, as well as a scratch-to-digital title in March. It will also revamp its Loto product, which is expected to go live by the end of the year.

With no major football tournaments in 2019, FDJ is banking on world championships in women’s football, basketball and rugby to drive growth for ParionsSport. It will also look to leverage its quartet of Ligue 1 partnerships to increase brand visibility, and plans to enhance its points of sale offering with betting on four new sports to launch.