French online gambling market posts 2014 gains thanks to World Cup

france-pari-pmu-fdjOnline gambling in France overcame a sluggish Q4 to post modest annual revenue growth in 2014. Figures released Friday by French gambling regulator ARJEL show Q4 revenue falling 2% to €183.2m but the full year figure rose 6% to €725m, largely due to the 2014 FIFA World Cup’s effect on sports betting.

Sports betting turnover rose 22% to €322m in Q4 but revenue was flat at €54m. Horseracing turnover fell 2% to €272m but revenue nudged up 1% to €68m. Online poker continued its inexorable slide, with total revenue falling 6% to €61.2m. Tournament stakes rose 8% to €424m but it wasn’t enough to overcome a 12% decline in cash games stakes, which fell to €1.06b.

For the year as a whole, total stakes fell 5% to €8.4b. Sports betting was the star performer, with stakes up 31% to €1.1b and revenue up 36% to €227m. Betting on the horses wasn’t as fortunate, with stakes and revenue falling to €1.03b (-7%) and €257m (-3%) respectively. Cash poker stakes fell 14% to €4.35b and tournament stakes rose 6% to €1.55b, resulting in a 7% decline in poker revenue to €241m.

World Cup betting generated €109m in turnover, nearly 10% of the annual betting total. Football wagers of all stripes rose 36% in 2014, while basketball gained 49% and tennis rose 18%.

At the close of 2014, the regulated French market had 17 operators holding 31 separate licenses: 12 online poker, 11 sports betting and eight for horseracing. The total number of online sports betting accounts rose 36% to 1.14m, while active accounts rose 32% to 170k. Total horseracing accounts fell 2% to 488k and actives fell 3% to 139k. Poker accounts fell 7% to 1.16m and actives fell 10% to 246k.

French betting operator France Pari’s Q4 report card showed revenue up 43% to €17.9m. Sports betting revenue rose nearly 50% to €15.8m while racing revenue fell 9% to €1.05m and Sportnco B2B revenue doubled to €1.05m. France Pari said its mobile channels accounted for 25% of all wagers in 2014 and 40% of Q4’s total, suggesting the nine mobile apps launched last year are gathering momentum.

Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) didn’t have as good a year, with turnover falling 4.1% to €9.9b and revenue falling 2.2% to €2.5b. Retail sales were particularly hard hit, falling 5.8% to €7.5b. Things could get worse in 2015, as PMU will no longer be allowed to commingle its online and offline racing liquidity as of September.

PMU’s online stakes fell 2.9% to €1.6b, as online racing wagers fell 10.6% to €843m. The online sports betting vertical saw stakes rise 15% to €228.7m and revenue up 21.9% to €47.1m. Online poker stakes rose 3.8% to €591.6m but revenue fell 1.4% to €21.3m. Mobile accounted for one-third of racing wagers and 45% of sports betting.

Française Des Jeux (FDJ) set a new record in 2014 with sales of €13b, up 5.2% over 2013. Sports betting sales rose 20% to over €2b, thanks to an extra €192m wagered on the World Cup (+52% from the 2010 tourney). The ParionsWeb online betting division was up 45% while total online revenue grew 17% to €473m. FDJ is partly owned by the French government and contributes an estimated €3b to the state’s budget.