France’s online gambling operators enjoy punters’ poor choices


france-online-gambling-poor-choicesFrance’s online sports betting operators positively pummeled punters in the third quarter of 2019, while online poker got a double-digit boost from increased tournament activity.

Figures released Thursday by French gambling regulator ARJEL show the country’s licensed online gambling operators generated combined revenue of €346m in the three months ending September 30, a strong 27.7% improvement over the same period last year and around €3m more than the market reported in Q2 2019.

Sports betting was the primary engine of Q3’s growth, with the 13 betting licensees reporting revenue up 44% year-on-year to €214m, despite online betting stakes rising only 9% to €1.08b and active bettors dipping 1%.

Total return to sports bettors dipped 5.3 points year-on-year, which is partly a reflection of the final match of the FIFA World Cup, in which France triumphed over Croatia, resulting in a €36.5m payout to patriotic punters in Q3 2018. Operators’ bonus offers to bettors fell by €3m to €17m, reflecting the lack of a similarly marquee sports event in the most recent quarter.

The once moribund sports of kings was once again spared a trip to the knackers, as race betting revenue rose 5% to €66m, thanks in part to bonus offers dipping by more than one-third. But active race bettors improved by 5% and stakes rose 7%, leading ARJEL to project that racing will enjoy a third straight year of annual growth once 2019’s final numbers are in.

Over at the online poker tables, active player ranks were up 8% to 256k while overall poker revenue was up nearly 12% to €66m. Tournament poker drove the gains, rising 14% to €45m, but cash games managed a modest 5% rise to €21m.

French-licensed operators may have been stingy with their bonus offers in Q3, but their overall marketing outlay was up 13.2% to €43m. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of this sum was spent on acquisition and retention efforts, while another 33% went to local media promos.

This is the final quarterly report that ARJEL will issue, as the government plans to replace the body with a new entity, L’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ), effective January 1, 2020.