France’s online gambling market off to flying start in 2019


france-online-gambling-market-2019France’s regulated online gambling market was all positives in the first quarter of 2019, with the notable exception of (what else) poker cash games.

Figures released this week by France’s gambling regulatory body ARJEL show locally licensed online operators generated combined revenue of €357m in the three months ending March 31, a 27% improvement over the same period last year. Active player accounts rose by one-fifth to 2.2m, while deposits were up one-quarter to €658m.

The numbers were driven by sports betting, which reported total wagers of €1.27b, up 51% year-on-year, 20% higher than in Q4 2018 and a new quarterly record since the market’s liberalization in 2010. In fact, Q1’s handle was more than the market generated in all of 2014. Wagering revenue was up 51% to €222m, another all-time record, as the number of weekly active bettors spiked 42% to 655k.

Football remains the dominant wagering sport, capturing nearly €717m of Q1’s online handle, which is 54% higher than Q1 2018’s total. Interestingly, while France’s Ligue 1 remains the most popular football betting product at €119.6m (+48%), Premier League wagers shot up 111% to €73.3m, good enough for second place. Tennis ranked second on the overall handle chart with €250m (+53%), while basketball ranked third with €177m (+42%).

Horseracing had a more modest quarter, with wagers up only 1% to €273m, while revenue rose 3% to €67m. The number of weekly active race bettors inched up 3% to 154k.

Online poker revenue dipped 1% to €68m, virtually the only negative number in the Q1 report. Tournament poker did its bit, with entry fees and revenue up 1% to €599m and €45.4m, respectively. But cash games stakes fell 3% to €1.07b and revenue fell 7% to €22.5m. Overall poker weekly active player ranks were up 1% to 273k.

The poker numbers represent a reversal of sorts for France’s market, which saw positive growth across both tournaments and cash games in 2018, in large part due to new liquidity sharing pacts with Spain and Portugal.

Continuing a trend that the French market has been showing for years, the ranks of weekly active female gamblers are growing faster than les hommes. Women still represent only one-eighth of all French online gamblers, but their numbers grew by 24% in Q1 while the men were up 19%.

This disparity is even more pronounced in sports betting where female customers improved 42% to 191k while men rose 27% to 1.5m. Compare that to poker, where active females fell by 3% to 71k while males rose 3% to 570k.