France sets online sports betting records, poker’s pandemic surge slows


France’s online gambling market shook off its pandemic baggage in the third quarter thanks to record sports and race betting handle.  

Figures released Wednesday by France’s Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) gambling regulator show locally licensed online gambling operators generated combined revenue of €405m in the three months ending September 30, up 17% from the same period last year and more than one-quarter better than Q2 2020’s result.

Sports betting revenue rose 6% year-on-year to €228m as betting turnover soared 49% to €1.615b, a new record for France’s decade-old regulated online market. The surge came courtesy of a 37% rise in weekly active bettors to nearly 2.2m as major sports resumed activity following this spring’s halt due to COVID-19, although average stakes per player slipped by 22% to €104.

Football drove the results, accounting for 64% of Q3 betting stakes, while the Champions League final between Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich drew over €31m in bets, second only to the final match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Horseracing also enjoyed solid gains in betting stakes (€363m, +34%) and revenue (€87m, +32%) despite weekly active bettors rising only 12% to 347k. Average spending per bettor shot up 18% year-on-year to €251, although this represented a 9% sequential decline as the resumption of sports caused racing to lose a little of its pandemic appeal.

Online poker failed to sustain its record-setting pace from Q2, although revenue improved 36% year-on-year to €90m (cash games up 12% to €24m, tournaments up 48% to €66m). Weekly actives were up 31% year-on-year to 334k although this was a significant step down from Q2’s 438k.

For the year-to-date, France’s overall online market revenue is up 11% to €1.2b, with all verticals reporting positive annual growth. But ANJ chair Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin warned that operators need to demonstrate “greater accountability” to ensure gambling doesn’t get out of hand as France heads into a second lockdown, this time with a full slate of sports on which to wager.

The pandemic resurgence is already being felt by horseracing operators, whose betting turnover rose only 1% in October following months of double-digit gains. France Galop, one of two governing bodies for French racing, estimated this week that the new lockdown could deprive the sector of around €30m in wagers if the situation persists through the end of December.