French online gaming revenue rose by 35 per cent to €587m (£505m/$715m) in the first quarter of 2021, according to the country’s gaming regulator Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ).
The activity was driven by 3.1 million account players, up 19 per cent compared to 2020. Each online gaming segment experienced strong growth, which the regulator said was a likely consequence of the pandemic.
“As such, the levels of growth recorded in the first quarter of 2021, which are measured against the first quarter of 2020, must be received with a certain degree of caution”, ANJ said, noting that they may be skewed by people moving away from betting that was shut down by the pandemic and into other verticals.
The regulator’s figures reveal revenue across the gaming sector in France was up by 22% per cent in the first quarter, after a turbulent 2020.
Sports and horse betting once again reported record stakes too, while poker began to return to normal.
The online sports betting segment, which suffered most from the cancellation of sports events in the first covid-19 lockdown, saw the most spectacular increase in stakes in Q1.
Players committed around €2.2bn in stakes, up 79 per cent compared to Q1 2020, on sports betting in Q1, which is highest number of stakes recorded during the year.
The number of sports bettors for the quarter increased by 29 per cent to a total of nearly 2.5 million active player accounts.
The regulator said it expected growth to continue at a high rate this year due to the European Football Championship and the Summer Olympics.
Française des Jeux (FDJ), the country’s national lottery operator, reported that the volume of sports betting stakes recorded on the two distribution channels equal to €1.1bn euros in the 1st quarter of 2021, which corresponds to an increase of 46 per cent compared to its results for Q1 2020.
Horse racing stakes, which amount to €481m, increased by 60 per cent compared to the Q1 2020, which again corresponds to the highest volume of stakes recorded over a quarter.
At the same time, the turnover of the six licensed horse betting operators rose by 48 per cent compared the Q1, to €110m.
Online horse betting also recorded an increase of 13 per cent for players, with a total of 402,000 active player accounts during the quarter.
Horse racing operator PMU reported that almost 40 per cent of horse race betting points of sale were closed for several consecutive months. As a result, the operator shows a drop of 23 per cent in stakes placed in its network of points of sale, leaving total stakes at €1.3bn.
Meanwhile, online poker, which recorded its highest increase in turnover in 2020, continues to grow at a steady pace but more slowly than in previous quarters.
The sector’s turnover increased by 23 per cent to reach €120m in Q1. The number of online poker players increased by 9 per cent to 991,000 active player accounts.
Q2 results will be skewed, the regulator warned, due to the fact that Q2 2020 saw exceptional levels of activity due to the first lockdown.
ANJ president Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin said: “The dynamics of online games were confirmed again this quarter and accelerated. It calls for certain vigilance and must be accompanied in order to guarantee the protection of players, especially in the run-up to major sporting events such as the football EURO or the Tokyo Olympics.
“As such, the ANJ reminded operators of the need for their commercial communications to stress the importance of maintaining a moderate and controlled gaming practice and that the bonus or welcome offers they offer are sufficiently clear, allowing players understand the commitments they underpin. In addition, the ANJ will pay particular attention to the sites of prognosticators or tipsters which have recently developed strongly. Some of these sites are indeed deceptive marketing practices and present a real danger to players. ”