BUSINESS

French regulator says don’t “dramatize” online gambling market problems

TAGs: arjel, Charles Coppolani, France

france-online-gambling-ennuiFrance’s regulated online gambling market continued to be plagued by ennui in the third quarter of 2015, with only sports betting showing real signs of life.

Figures released late last week by the country’s gaming regulator, l’Autorité de regulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL), show overall online gambling revenue in the three months ending Sept. 30 sipping 0.3% year-on-year to €176.1m.

Sports betting revenue improved 3% to €62m as the ranks of active sports bettors rose 5% to 165k. Horse betting revenue was also up, albeit only 5% to €60.1m, while race betting turnover was flat at €238m.

Online poker continued to stink out the joint, with overall revenue falling 5% to €54m. Tournament poker stakes actually improved 21% year-on-year but these gains were undone by a 20% fall in cash game stakes.

It’s been five years since France launched its regulated online gambling market, which has been widely criticized for its high rate of taxation, limited wagering options and its ring-fenced online poker business. Reflecting back on the past five years, ARJEL president Charles Coppolani said the state’s goals had been “partially achieved even if everything didn’t go exactly as planned.”

Coppolani acknowledged that France’s regulated market had turned out to be “not as competitive as hoped” back in 2010. However, Coppolani insisted that Brownie was doing a heckuva job and therefore the gaming industry’s struggles “should not be dramatized.” Coppolani said “many” of the state’s 17 licensed online operators “have achieved balance or are about to achieve it.”

That said, ARJEL issued a call in June for a dramatic overhaul of the country’s online gambling regulations. In his Q3 statement, Coppolani copped to the fact that poker was in “big trouble” and promised that new poker variants would be permitted before the end of 2015. Coppolani also said France would push for liquidity sharing deals with other European Union regulated markets in 2016, although we’ve been hearing that song for a couple years now.

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