France’s online sports betting market reported a 25% increase in turnover in Q1 2014, but the vertical was the lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal market. French gaming regulator ARJEL revealed that sports betting revenue rose 22% to €54m, largely on the strength of football wagering, which saw turnover rise 29% to €154.9m. Tennis turnover rose 7% to €39.5m, basketball was up 41% to €31.2m and hockey rose 87% to €7.8m thanks in part to the Sochi Olympic Games. Football accounted for 60% of wagers, followed by tennis (15%), basketball (12%), rugby and hockey (3% each), volleyball and handball (2% each) and other sports (3%).
In keeping with trends over the past two years, online poker experienced the greatest decline, with the number of active player accounts falling 12% year on year. The number of active accounts taking part in cash games fell even harder, with the weekly average down 21% to 98k. Tournament entry fees gained 9% to €407m but cash games stakes fell 19% to €1.2b, resulting in a 10% overall revenue decline to €65m. Cash games stakes are now 28% below the figures recorded in the same period two years ago.
Horseracing also had a tough three months, with online turnover down 12% to €269m, revenue down 8% to €68m and the number of active online accounts falling 5% to 148k. The figures mark the third straight quarter of declining horseracing wagers and, more ominously, the first quarter is traditionally a high time for track operators, suggesting 2014’s overall numbers will fall well short of expectations.
Accordingly, French horseracing/betting operator Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) reported a 3.4% drop in Q1 revenue to €2.6b. PMU’s mainstay horseracing operations showed a steeper drop, falling 4.5% to €2.4b, while sportsbetting increased 17% to €57.6m and poker gained 9.2% to €151.8m. Gross margins mimicked the revenue trends, with horseracing down 1.6% to €619.8m, sports betting up 14.8% to €11.8m and poker up 6.4% to €5.7m.
Betting operator France Pari can’t hope to match PMU’s scale, but its Q1 figures were comparatively brighter. Revenue topped €4m, earnings hit €150k and profits hit €80k thanks to a 70% gain in its betting operations. France Pari’s Sportnco B2B division, whose sports betting clients include PMU subsidiary Genybet as well as NetBet and JOAonline, saw revenue rise 87% to €2.5m as turnover topped €12m.