FDJ outlines enhanced CSR strategy for 2019
French gaming operator La Française des Jeux (FDJ) has set out plans to ramp up corporate social responsiblity (CSR) efforts as part of a wider effort to clamp down on issues such as problem gambling, underage players and fraud.
From 2019, the operator will commit 10% of its annual television advertising budget to responsible gambling, with a focus on the dangers associated with underage gambling.
This represents a significant increase on 2% that was committed to such efforts last year, which included broadcasting awareness campaigns on the prohibition of underage gambling during the football World Cup.
FDJ will also continue its retail training initiative, having last year trained more than 13,000 members of staff on how they can prevent underage gambling.
Elsewhere, FDJ will this year develop and launch a new money laundering risk assessment tool that will be applied to all of its retail and digital bets.
The operator will also implement an action plan with the aim of becoming a carbon neutral business in 2019, and reducing its carbon emissions by 20% by 2025
FDJ will also look to improve gender equality within its organisation, having been given a score of 84/100 on France's new gender equality index, established by a law passed in September 2018 to reduce the gender inequality in French workplaces.
The enhanced commitment to CSR comes after FDJ released its full financial results for the 12 months to December 31, 2019. Gross gaming revenue was up by 1.9% year-on-year to €5.12bn (£4.44bn/$5.79bn) after the operator was boosted by a 4.4% jump in stakes to €15.8bn, as reported in January. FDJ's contribution to France's public finances rose 2.8% to €3.5m for the year.
Net gaming revenue was also up 2.7% to €1.77bn despite players winning 5.7% more (€10.70bn) during the year.
However, operating expenses, excluding amortisation, increased by 2.9% to €1.49bn million. FDJ put this rise down to the first phase of an overhaul of its commission structure for retailers.
In 2018, retailers stopped making rental payments for point-of-sale machines and were paid for promotional activities. This year, the second phase of this commission change comes into force, with different commission rates to be paid on different products, in a bid to encourage retailers to promote games including low stakes scratch cards and sports betting. Total retailer commission rose by 4% to €785m in 2018.
Higher expenses hit operating income, which slipped from €258m to €257m last year, with net income falling 5.8% to €170m. FDJ also noted a slight decline in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to €315m.
Reflecting on the results and enhanced responsible gambling focus, FDJ chair Stéphane Pallez said these confirm the relevance of the operator’s business model, which combines strong operating performances, redistribution to the community, responsible gaming and a strong economic and social footprint
“They enable the FDJ Group to continue investing, both in digital transformation and in CSR,” Pallez said. “With that in mind, FDJ undertakes to allocate, as from 2019, 10% of its television advertising investment to responsible gaming.”