French operator La Française des Jeux (FDJ) has swerved profit losses with a strong set of results in the second half of 2020.
The firm saw lottery sales and sportsbook stakes rise by 2.8% over the six months to 31 December 2020, offsetting a difficult first half in which it reported an 18.4% year-on-year decline in turnover.
Turnover was still down overall across the year, falling 6% to €15.96bn (£14.02bn/$19.31bn) from €17.13bn in 2019. However, net profit rose by 5.9% to €213.7m. The stable profit margin was helped in part by a reduction in costs as a result of the 2020 lockdowns.
FDJ’s income was primarily from its lottery business, which generated €12.73bn – a 6% decline on the previous year. Instant win games made up €7.72bn of that total (down 5.9%) and draw-based games were responsible for €5.01bn (down 6.2%).
Across the year online lottery turnover exceeded €1.1bn, equating to 9% of all stakes for the vertical. This partially offset a decline in point-of-sale activity as a result of the pandemic, according to the firm.
Sports betting fell dramatically in the first half of the year, down by 38.8%. However, FDJ saw this loss mitigated by double-digit growth in the second half of the year. Overall, the firm saw handle fall by 10.0% to €3.19bn.
Players did migrate online to FDJ’s new sports betting platform Parions Sport En Ligne at this time. The online sportsbook generated more than 80% of stakes, compared to 70% in 2019.
After paying out winnings of €10.85bn to customers, FDJ reported gross revenue of €5.11bn, which was down 6.4%. Its net revenue, after taxes and lottery and sports rights payments, came to €1.88bn, down 6.5%.
The firm generated an additional €40.9m in revenue from its FDJ International B2B arm, payment services and entertainment, bringing total revenue to €1.92bn, which was a 6.3% year-on-year decline.
FDJ chief executive Stéphane Pallez said, despite the impact of the pandemic on the first half of the year, “the recovery in the second half, combined with the group’s responsiveness and relevant digital strategy, enabled us to preserve our performance and annual results”.
Despite uncertainty continuing into 2021, the operator has several lottery launches and relaunches planned, as well as enhanced Loto and Euromillions jackpots.
The firm is expanding its online lottery offer and has high hopes for its sport betting platforms in light of the UEFA Euro football tournament and the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.