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French sports betting market grows in Q1 but poker continues to struggle

15th April 2014 8:20 am GMT

The French online gaming market saw gross gaming revenue fall by 2 per cent in the first quarter of 2014, with strong growth in sports betting unable to offset further declines in poker and horse racing betting.

Despite posting year-on-year growth in the final quarter of last year, the French online gaming market was unable to maintain that momentum, with amounts staked dropping 10 per cent to €2.13bn during the first quarter.

According to figures released by regulator L’autorité de regulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL), sports betting gross gaming revenue grew 22 per cent year-on-year to €54m for the quarter. This was driven by a 25 per cent increase in amounts wagered which was credited largely to huge interest in betting on football.

Q1 2014 iGaming Revenue:

Euros (€) Q1 2013Q1 2014% change
Sports betting stakes 204m254m25
Sports betting GGR 44m54m22
Horse racing stakes 305m269m(12)
Horse racing GGR 72m66m(8)
Cash poker stakes 1,476m1,201m(19)
Tournament poker stakes 375m407m9
Combined poker GGR 72m65m(10)
Total stakes 2,360m2,131m(10)
Total GGR 188m185m(2)

Football was responsible for 60 per cent of total amounts wagered, up €34.5m for the quarter, as a result of increased interest in France’s top football league Ligue 1 and the Champions League, with increased betting activity also seen around other European leagues.

Tennis and basketball were the next most popular sports, but with 15 per cent and 12 per cent of total stakes respectively, they generated far less than football.

ARJEL also credited football for the strong growth in the number of active sports betting accounts, which numbered 159,000 during the quarter. In 2011, the market’s first full year of activity, there were just 97,000 active accounts.

February’s Winter Olympics, held in the Russian city of Sochi, saw amounts wagered on ice hockey grow 87 per cent, with €940,000 bet on the sport at the Games alone. In total the event generated gross gaming revenue of €251,000 from €1.84m wagered.

Horse racing betting saw revenue decline 8 per cent to €66m, the vertical’s third consecutive quarter of decline. ARJEL said that the global horse racing sector was experiencing a downturn, something that was supported by the fact that the number of active accounts fell by 5 per cent 148,000. The regulator said that this suggested customers were betting less frequently and spending less.

Poker also continued to decline, with gross gaming revenue down 10 per cent to €65m, with ARJEL admitting that French operators had failed to halt the decline despite numerous attempts to differentiate their offerings from competitors.

Amounts staked on cash games fell 19 per cent year-on-year to €1.2bn, though tournament entry fees were up 9 per cent to €407m. ARJEL revealed that average amounts staked per week were down to €93m, compared to €130m in Q1 2012, showing a 28 per cent decline over the past two years.

Players were also less likely to play poker, with the number of active accounts falling 12 per cent year-on-year to 263,000, far down from the 2011 average of 300,000 active players.

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