France’s online gambling market remained driven by sports betting in Q4 2016, while poker’s decline slowed but failed to stop.
Figures released Thursday by French gaming regulator ARJEL show online sports betting turnover hitting €532m in the three months ending December 31, an 18% improvement over Q4 2015 and the second highest total (after Q2 2016) since the regulated market launched in 2010.
Sports betting revenue jumped 9% in Q4 to €89m while the number of weekly active bettors gained 14% to 275k. For 2016 as a whole, betting handle shot up 44.5% to €2.08b while revenue gained 29% to €349m, reflecting the impact of the Euro 2016 football tournament and the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.
Horserace betting handle continued to decline in Q4, falling 7% to €246m, while race betting revenue slipped €5m to €62m. Racing stakeholders grasping for positives will point to the fact that the handle decline improved from -12% and -11% in Q2 and Q3 2016, respectively. For the year, race handle was down 9% to €924m and revenue fell 8% to €234m.
Cash game poker stakes continued to decline in Q4, falling 0.4% to €933m, the 21st straight quarter of negative growth, although the decline was the lowest rate recorded in 2016 and the December monthly figures actually showed a modest year-on-year improvement.
ARJEL credited cash poker’s slowing decline to French legislators’ authorization in October of new game variants, but weekly active player numbers were down 7% in Q4 to just 71k, consistent with the rest of the yearly trend.
And cash games’ gain may have come at the expense of poker tournament fees, which fell 2% to €486m in Q4, marking the first quarter since Q2 2013 that tournament fees have reported a year-on-year decline. Weekly active tournament players slipped 1% to 227k.
Poker operator revenue for 2016 fell 1% to €230m, with tournaments up nearly 5% to €137.3m and cash games falling 8% to €93m. FY16 poker cash game stakes figure were down 5% to €3.55b, while tournament take gained 5.3% to €1.86b.
Overall online gambling new account registrations fell 15% to 366k in Q4, but ARJEL claims that many French punters opened new accounts this summer to bet on Euro 2016, which could have limited new accounts in the following months. ARJEL notes that October’s new account signups were down 34% while December managed a 2% rise.
While mobile gambling continues to gain in popularity, only sports betting currently enjoys a majority of its transactions away from the desktop. Mobile devices accounted for 61% of sports wagers in Q4, while 67% of horserace bettors and 75% of poker players made their wagers from the desktop.
French-licensed online operators spent €194m in marketing in 2016, €47m more than in 2015, reflecting Euro 2016-themed promotions. But last year’s marketing was only €4m higher than in 2014, which featured the most recent FIFA World Cup tournament.