France’s regulated online gambling market grew across all verticals in the first quarter of 2018 as active player ranks surged by one-quarter.
Figures released Monday by French gaming regulator ARJEL show the country’s licensed online sports betting operators handled wagers worth €847m in the three months ending March 31, a 34% rise over the same period last year and a new record for online betting handle since the regulated market launched in 2010.
Online betting revenue fared even better, rising 55% year-on-year to €147m – another quarterly record – thanks to favorable sporting results that pushed the return to players down 2.1 points to 85% (the minimum return allowed under French law). The average number of weekly active bettors surged 36% to 462.5k, enticed in part by operators’ bonus offers, which jumped 53% to €19.6m.
Football wagers were up 34% year-on-year to €465m, accounting for 55% of Q1’s total wagering handle. The presence of French football clubs in the Champions League and Europa League finals pushed wagering in these leagues up 47% and 73% year-on-year, respectively.
Tennis wagers grew 26% to €163m for a 19% share of Q1’s overall handle, while basketball wagers jumped 53% to €125m, representing a 15% share. Betting on National Basketball Association games accounted for €80.6m, just €500k less than the sum wagered on Ligue 1 football matches in Q1.
Only €4.4m was wagered on the 2018 Winter Olympics, although this was more than double the €2m wagered on the 2014 event. Nearly half (44%) of all Olympic wagers were live bets, despite the time disparity between the host nation South Korea. Regardless, the total paled in comparison to the €34m wagered on the 2016 Summer Olympics, which also suffered from significant time-shifting.
Online horseracing wagers improved 9% to €270m, marking the fourth consecutive quarter of year-on-year growth. The rise was aided by race betting bonus offers nearly doubling to €8.1m, while weekly active race betting accounts rose 6% to 148k. Race betting revenue improved 8% to €65m.
France’s once-struggling online poker market reported cash game spending jumping 18% to just over €1.1b but cash game revenue slipped 2% to €24.1m. Online poker tournament fees were up 14% to €594m and tourney revenue gained 15% to €44.8m.
Despite the cash games spending rise, cash games recorded a 1% decline in weekly average players to 79k. By contrast, weekly active tournament players rose 5% to 252k.
Women still make up a tiny fraction of France’s online gamblers, but their ranks are growing faster than their male counterparts. Weekly weekly active female online gamblers improved 30% to 222k in Q1, while male actives were up 24% to 1.63m.
The female surge was most evident in sports betting, which saw female actives jump 69% to 134k versus a 42% rise for male gamblers. Female active number growth was far more subdued in both poker (73k, +7%) and race betting (54k, +5%).
The market’s overall gains were achieved despite French-licensed operators continuing to reduce their marketing expenditure. Operators collectively spent €42m on advertising in Q1, down from €50m in the same period last year.