French sports betting buoyed by increased media attention on football

20th August 2013 9:11 am GMT

French online gaming regulator L’autorité de regulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL) has attributed the continuing growth of the country’s sports betting market to increased interest driven by widespread media coverage of football clubs Paris Saint Germain (PSG) and AS Monaco, both of whom are now backed by billionaire owners.

Qatari-backed PSG and Monaco (owned by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev) have both invested heavily in star players this year, with Monaco paying a reported €60m for Colombian striker Radamel Falcao and PSG spending €64m on Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani among others.

The increased media attention on the French football league has helped to generate higher interest among French bettors, offsetting the lack of a major football tournament during the second quarter of 2013.

Last year amounts wagered on football grew by 34 per cent during Q2 compared to the previous year as a result of the Euro 2012 championships.

In a detailed analysis of this year’s second quarter results, ARJEL said that the media coverage of teams such as PSG had helped slow the decline, with amounts wagered on football down just 5 per cent year-on-year, falling from €107.6m to €102.7m for the quarter.

This pushed the overall amounts wagered on sports betting to €402m for the first six months of 2013, up 11 per cent versus the prior year period, generating an 11 per cent increase in gross gaming revenues (GGR) to €80m.

This was due to increased betting activity on all football competitions, with amounts wagered rising across Ligue 1 (up 12 per cent to €14.3m), Ligue 2 (up 21 per cent to €4.6m), the Champions League (up 94 per cent to €9.7m) and the Europa League (up 117 per cent to €3.9m).

Among the stand-out matches were PSG’s Champions League quarter-final against Spain’s Barcelona FC, with a total of €2.2m bet over the two-match tie alone.

The increased interest in high-profile teams such as PSG and Monaco has prompted younger people to set up sports betting accounts, with 28 per cent of players now aged between 18 and 24. Players are also migrating to mobile devices, with around 25 per cent betting via smartphone and tablet, compared to 18 per cent in Q2 2012.

French Players by Age Group:

  Sports Betting Horse Race Betting Poker TOTAL
  Q2 2012Q2 2013 Q2 2012Q2 2013 Q2 2012Q2 2013 Q2 2012Q2 2013
18-24 24%28% 6%6% 21%18% 19%18%
25-34 40%37% 18%17% 44%43% 37%36%
35-54 27%30% 48%47% 31%34% 34%35%
55-64 8%4% 19%20% 3%4% 7%8%
65+ 1%1% 9%10% 1%1% 3%3%

This increase in betting activity was not replicated across all products, with the percentage of bettors younger than 35 years old actually decreasing year-on-year, falling from 56 per cent to 54 per cent. Older bettors, those over 55, also declined. Having comprised 9 per cent of the French betting market in Q2 2012, the age bracket now accounts for just 5 per cent of the total market.

H1 2013 Results

Euros (€) H1 2012H1 2013
Sports Betting Stakes 362m402m
Sports Betting GGR 72m80m
Horse Race Betting Stakes 569m578m
Horse Race Betting GGR 134m137m
Cash Poker Stakes 3,213m2,742m
Cash Tournament Stakes 712m716m
Combned Poker GGR 153m135m
TOTAL Stakes 4,856m4,438m
TOTAL GGR 359m352m

Average player spend has also risen over the quarter, with an average of €222 deposited in each account during the period, and around €74 per month, up from €71 over the same period last year. Frequency of deposits also rose, with players paying in new funds on average 7 times every three months.

Despite debit card payments remaining the most popular transaction method in France, there was a 2 per cent decline in the number of transactions, benefitting prepay cards as well as e-wallets and other electronic payment methods, which both saw a 1 per cent rise in transactions.

Overall, the French online gaming market generated GGR of €352m for the half year period, down 2 per cent year-on-year, with growth in sports betting and horse race betting unable to offset a decline in online poker. Total stakes fell 9 per cent to €4,438m versus a year ago.