French gambling regulator ARJEL has revoked the sports betting license of online betting site france-bet-sportif.fr. The site has been ordered not to accept new bets or new customers and will be allowed to remain open solely for the purpose of facilitating withdrawals from existing customer accounts.
France-bet-sportif.fr, which was run by Olympic sailing star Derrendinger Arnaud’s company Aubsail SAS, was issued a five-year license in July 2011. But ARJEL claims the site fell short of its obligations under said license, including failing to file timely compliance reports and failing to adhere to the stipulated 85% cap on return to its punters. This cap on return is intended as a hedge against the thrill of victory possibly leading to addiction, but has done more to encourage French punters to seek out better odds on sites not licensed by the French government.
Despite ARJEL’s heavy hand, the French sports betting market actually grew in the first quarter of 2013. Betting handle rose 17% to €204m, with football wagers up 19% over Q1 2012 thanks in part to the Paris Saint-Germain club making the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. Basketball and tennis wagers were also up 35% and 15% respectively. Licensed French sports betting operators earned revenue of €44m, up 19% from €37m the previous year. Horse racing revenues rose a more modest 5% to €72m, thanks in part to an 8% boost in the number of races run.
The number of active sports betting accounts rose 22% to 133k in Q1. Football accounted for 60% of all sports wagers, virtually unchanged from the previous year. Thanks in part to the Australian Open, tennis was the second most popular wagering activity with 18%. Basketball accounted for 11%, with no other sport topping double-digits.
In February, ARJEL said it expected the country’s much maligned online poker market to snap out of its free fall in both the number of players and revenue generated. Sadly, while tournament entry fees rose 2% to €375m, the total amount staked in cash games fell 13% to €1.47b, pushing overall poker revenues down 13% to €72m. The poker decline clawed back the gains in sports betting and horseracing, causing overall French online gambling revenues to slip to €188m from €189m in Q1 2012.