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French online gaming market continues to decline as poker suffers

11th July 2013 9:49 am GMT

France’s online poker market has continued to suffer in the second quarter of 2013, reporting its largest decline in amounts staked since the market opened, though sports betting showed further signs of growth despite the lack of a major sporting tournament during the period.

According to figures released by French online gaming regulator ARJEL, second quarter amounts staked on sports rose 5.7 per cent year-on-year to €198m, while gross gaming revenues rose 3 per cent from Q1 2012 to €36m.

Including results from the first quarter, French players bet a total €402m during the first six months of 2013, representing an 11.4 per cent increase on the corresponding period last year. This increase comes despite a reduced sporting calendar in 2013, with Q2 of last year featuring the Euro 2012 football championships which accounted for €31m of total amounts wagered.

Online Gaming Revenues Q2

Euros (€) Q2 2012Q2 2013 % Change
Sports Betting Stakes 187m198m 5.7%
Sports Betting GGR 35m36m 3.0%
Horse Race Betting Stakes 278m273m (1.5%)
Horse Race Betting GGR 65m65m 0.6%
Cash Poker Stakes 1,515m1,266m (16.4%)
Cash Tournament Stakes 345m341m (1.0%)
Combined Poker GGR 70m63m (9.5%)
TOTAL Stakes 2,325m2,078m (10.6%)
TOTAL GGR 170m164m (3.5%)

The French sports betting market was able to offset the lack of a major tournament due to increased betting activity on tennis, basketball and ice hockey, which posted year-on-year growth of 18 per cent, 23 per cent and 128 per cent respectively. This helped mitigate a decline in amounts staked on football, with GGR for the sport declining 8 per cent.  

The most popular sports remain football, tennis and basketball, which together account for more than 90 per cent of amounts staked on sports in France.

Poker, in contrast, continued to struggle after recording a 16 per cent decline in amounts staked in Q2, which represents the largest decline since the French online gaming market was partially regulated in 2010.

This was followed by the first year-on-year decrease in poker tournament fees, which fell by 1 per cent despite a marginal increase in half-year fees, which rose 0.6 per cent compared to H1 2012.

ARJEL said that the fact that revenue from tournament fees had begun to fall “confirms the declining appeal of online poker”, which it said it had observed for several quarters.

This was apparent, the regulator said, in a steady drop in player numbers, with an average of 106,000 cash game accounts active over the quarter, showing an 18 per cent drop from the second quarter.

Despite poker usually experiencing a seasonal dip during the summer months, ARJEL said “the seasonal effect is less present” and the decline was “more linear, reflecting the downward trend of the market”.

Betting on horse racing also posted a decline in activity, again the first since regulation was introduced. Despite showing a marginal upswing in GGR, which rose 0.6 per cent, amounts staked dropped 1.5 per cent to €273m, despite bookmakers offering odds on a higher number of races in foreign countries including the UK, Chile and Belgium.

Overall, total amounts staked fell by 11 per cent year-on-year to €2,078m for the second quarter period. For the half year period, total amounts staked were down 9 per cent to €4,438m.

Player numbers also fell over the quarter across the board, with active sports betting accounts down 2 per cent to 118,000 due to the lack of a major tournament, poker down 7 per cent to 273,000 and horse racing down 1 per cent to 142,000.

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