Poker Rides To The Rescue for France

In the land of the grand casino and classic racetrack, the bad news is the old news.

It comes as no shock to find that online betting revenue in France experienced a 5.6 per cent decline across the months of the Covid-19 shutdown (April-May-June), embracing financial Q2.

But overall, in highly positive news, H1 performance grew by some 8.3 per cent – thanks to France’s continuing love affair with horse racing and a stellar showing for online poker during the second quarter lockdown.

Revenue declined to €323m (£289m/US$387m) during Q2.

French gambling regulator L’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) blamed Covid-19 and the mass cancellation of sporting events, including the all-important La Ligue.

Sports betting dropped 57.2 per cent to €513m (£456m/US$614m), of which €445m (£396m/US$533m) was wagered on football; with €36m (£32m/US$43m) staked on baseball and €18m (£16m/US$21.5m) on basketball.

In a novel and imaginative move, regulators widened legal betting on a gamut of international sports, among them: Australian Rules football, Hungarian football and the South Korean and Chinese leagues. Betting on Korean baseball and even Belarusian hockey was also approved.

Nevertheless, sports betting struggled in the second quarter, with the exception of horse racing which proved resilient – despite French racing being halted from March 17 to May 11.

On horses, amounts wagered rose 34.6 per cent to €362m (£322m/US$434m), revenue lifted 33.3 per cent to €88m (£78m/US$105m).

Poker was the standout performer in Q2, with revenue more than doubling year-on-year to €142m (£126m/US$170m) – the highest contribution of all products – as players, under lockdown, switched to the vertical.

The number of active player accounts for poker passed the one million mark, with an average spend of €134 (£120/US$160) in the second quarter. Revenue was up 82.4 per cent to €239m (£213m/US$286.5m), of which €110m (£98m/US$132m) was generated under lockdown.


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