France’s regulated online poker market posts first revenue gain since 2011

france-online-poker-revenue-gainsFrance’s regulated online gambling market experienced its single largest year-on-year gain in sports betting and the highest quarterly wagering total yet recorded.

According to figures released Monday by French regulator ARJEL, online sports betting handle in the three months ending March 31 reached €516m, up a whopping 47% from the same period last year. Total online sports revenue by French-licensed operators improved by 30% to €82m.

ARJEL credited the sports betting gains to a 2.1-point rise in betting returns to players, which the regulator believes encouraged punters to reinvest their winnings, as did a 75% year-on-year increase in bonus offers. The numbers were also given a jolt courtesy of a 34% rise in the number of weekly active betting accounts.

Every single individual sport enjoyed solid gains in Q1, with football stakes rising 45%, tennis up 46%, basketball rising 57% and rugby gaining 71%, while hockey more than doubled year-on-year.

Sports betting’s gain was horseracing’s loss, as racing handle fell 7% year-on-year to €247m while revenue fell 5% to €66m. ARJEL notes that the pace of racing’s decline is accelerating, and the declines are all the more notable considering that the number of weekly actives actually rose 1% in Q1, leading ARJEL to conclude that race bettors are simply placing smaller and smaller wagers.

As for poker, the French market’s ugly stepchild managed a rare revenue increase – albeit a modest 2% gain to €62m – the first year-on-year revenue gain the vertical has posted since Q3 2011. The gains came courtesy of rising tournament fees, which were up 17% to €500m. By contrast, cash game stakes continue to plummet, falling 7% to €953m.

The poker revenue gains were aided by a 2% decline in the volume of bonus offers sites made to players. Despite this stinginess, the volume of weekly active player accounts rose 4.4% to 257k.

ARJEL noted that the ranks of cash game players fell by 9k from Q1 2015 to 315k in Q1 2016. The number of players who spent less than €100 playing cash games was up two points while those who spent between €100-€300 and between €300-€1k both declined one point.

The volume of regs who spend over €100k appears to have plateaued, posting relatively stable numbers over the past three quarters. However, tournament players who spent over €50k in entry fees was up 31% year-on-year.

The poker vertical is set to get a further boost now that politicians have finally approved French-licensed sites to share liquidity with licensed operators in other European Union regulated markets, although no timelines for deal with countries like Italy, Spain or Portugal have been floated as of yet.

For the second consecutive quarter, more than half of all digital sports bets were placed via mobile devices. Poker has yet to tip the halfway point but Q1’s 47% mobile share was up seven points year-on-year and represented mobile poker’s highest score to date. Race bettors remain mobile laggards, with its share up only two points to 36%.