Poker and racing recoveries contribute to French Q3 growth

14 November 2019

The latest figures from French gambling regulator L’Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL) have shown the growth of horse race betting and poker has continued into the third quarter, with total revenue up 27.7% year-on-year.

Revenue for the three months ended 30 September, 2019 grew to €346m (£296.0m/$380.7m), with sports betting once again the standout vertical. 
Amounts wagered on sports grew 9% to €1.08bn, despite the prior year containing the latter stages of the Fifa World Cup - which was won by France -  with revenue climbing to €214m, a 43.6% improvement on 2018.

However, due to the lack of a major football tournament in Q3, the market did see a decline in player activity. The number of active accounts per week declined marginally to 553,000, though ARJEL noted that this had been driven by a high level of promotional spend from operators. During this year’s off-season, total sums paid out in bonuses to players declined 15.0% to €17m.

As usual, the bulk of stakes were placed on football, which accounted for €553.0m, which despite repressing a 12% year-on-year decline, still accounted for more than half of all amounts wagered. It was followed by tennis, which contributed €363.9m to the total, including €68.4m from Wimbledon and €67.1m from the US Open.

The early stages of the Rugby World Cup, which began on 20 September, attracted €10.8m in stakes.

Turning to horse racing, the market is on course to report its third consecutive year of growth, with player stakes rising 6.3% to €270m, with revenue increasing to €66m.

The growth in player activity was slower than the growth of player activity - there were 132,000 active accounts per week on average - which ARJEL suggested showed growth was coming from existing players gambling more. This was backed up by a decline in bonuses paid out by licensees, which fell 37.5% to €5m.

Poker, on the other hand, saw growth in player numbers and revenue in Q3, its second consecutive quarter of year-on-year growth. Revenue from cash games grew to €21m, with tournament rake increasing to €45m. However, for the first time, ARJEL did not provide figures for amounts wagered by poker players.

Player activity also increased in Q3, with the average number of active accounts per week up 5.3% to 139,000.

Despite the decline in bonusing across all verticals, total media spend by licensed operators grew 13.2% to €43m. The bulk of this spend (62%) went on acquisition and retention marketing, with 33% spend advertising through French media, and 5% going on sponsorship agreements.

The publication of the market figures come after the process to sell the majority of the French government’s stake in lottery and gaming giant La Française des Jeux (FDJ) got underway on 7 November. This is expected to be completed by 20 November, with institutional and private investors able to acquire the majority of the state’s 72% stake in the business.

Following the initial public offering, the government’s stake will be reduced to at least 30% of FDJ shares.

This will have a knock-on effect on ARJEL, which is to be replaced by a new regulatory body with a wider remit, covering lottery and land-based casinos as well as igaming. However it is unclear when this new entity, L’autorité nationale des jeux (ANJ), will come into power.