France sets online sports betting record, poker posts rare gain

france-online-sports-betting-recordFrance’s regulated online gambling market set a new sports betting record in the first quarter of 2017, while poker reported a rare revenue increase.

Figures released Wednesday by French gaming regulator ARJEL show online sports betting turnover in the three months ending March 31 rising 23% year-on-year to €633m, handily beating the previous record of €585m in Q2 2016, a period that included both the Euro 2016 football tournament and the Rio Olympic Games.

Sports betting revenue also set a new record at €94m, 16% more than in Q1 2016. ARJEL credited the sports betting gains to a significant rise in the number of registered bettors, whose ranks swelled by one-quarter to 341k. Also, the return to players (after bonuses) rose to 87.1%, which is above the 85% annual limit that ARJEL requires operators to observe, but definitely helped bettors recycle their winnings.

Football, tennis and basketball continue to dominate the sports betting scene, capturing 89% of all wagers. While football (+18%, €348m) and basketball (+19%, €81.6m) posted solid turnover gains, tennis surged 41% to €129.5m, half of which was made via in-play wagers.

Online poker was also in fine form (for a change), reporting revenue up 3% to €64m, despite the number of weekly active players slipping 1% to 255k. Cash game stakes declined 2% to €936m while revenue was down 4% to €24.6m. Tournament entry fees rose 1% to €506m but revenue rose 7% to €39m. The poker numbers were goosed by bonus offers, which rose more than one-quarter to €16.5m.

Online horserace betting continued its downward trajectory, with stakes slipping 1% to €246m, revenue falling 4% to €61m and weekly active bettors down 5% to 142k. It’s telling that 79% of French race bettors are over 35 years old, while 68% of sports bettors are under 35.

The overall number of gamblers who made at least one online wager of any type in Q1 was up 10% year-on-year to nearly 1.5m, another new quarterly record.

Interestingly, the number of female sports bettors surged 40% to 79k, nearly twice the growth of male bettors (+21%, 829k), while the numbers for the other verticals were far more evenly split. The female betting surge, which has been going on for a while now, means sports betting is now the favorite online gambling vertical among French women, surpassing poker’s 68k (+2%).