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Ten years after the market was opened in 2010, the year 2020 is a turning point for online gambling, which is becoming a permanent fixture in French people’s lives. Because of the acceleration of the digitisation of gambling practices favoured by the health crisis and the arrival of new players, online sports betting, horse racing and poker have recorded historic performances. The sector’s turnover rose by 22% in 2020 to reach €1.7 billion, its highest level since the opening to competition. This performance contrasts sharply with those of casinos and gambling or betting points of sale, which have been hit hard by the health crisis.

 

Online sports betting: increased recruitment of new players and rising average spend

With an increase in turnover of “only” 7%, the online sports betting market remains by far the dominant activity in the online gambling sector. In 2020, stakes on sports competitions reached €5.3 billion, the highest amount of stakes generated in a year since the opening up to competition in 2010. At the same time, the population of sports bettors continues to grow, with more than one million additional players over the year compared to 2019, representing 4.4 million sports betting players.

After a second quarter in which activity was down (-56% of turnover), the situation of the sports betting market was reversed in the second half of the year with the resumption of sports competitions.

On the other hand, the sports betting segment recorded a pronounced drop in activity at points of sale. The FDJ reports a 10% drop in sports betting stakes across all channels (online and in points of sale).

Bettors’ enthusiasm was focused on major sporting events such as the Champions League in football, which recorded a 65% increase in stakes compared to 2019, or the French Open, which generated €107 million in stakes, the highest amount ever for a Grand Slam tournament.

 

Online horse racing betting: continued growth and record of stakes levels

Online horse racing betting grew strongly, recording a 33% increase over 2019, and totalizing €1.5 billion in stakes, which corresponds to the largest volume of bets placed online over a year. The associated gross gambling revenue grew at a rate close to the stakes (+31%) and set a new historical benchmark (€354m).

This growth is being driven by the recruitment of new players (+5% of players in 2020), which undoubtedly reflects the transfer of a certain number of players who used to bet at points of sale to online horse racing betting.

PMU, whose point-of-sale games generally account for almost 90% of its domestic results, has reported a 15% loss of turnover in this channel.

 

Online poker: a windfall effect of lockdowns that seems to last

Online poker turnover for this year leapt by to €446 million (+64% on 2019), which is a new record-breaking activity erasing the previous benchmark of 2011, the first full year of the market opening.

The lockdowns measures (and more particularly those relating to the first lockdown) have indeed led to a renewed interest in poker. Online poker benefits from the significant recruitment of new players in 2020, which it intends to capitalise on, through loyalty actions, in order to maintain a high level of activity for the coming year. However, this attractiveness does not seem to have been accompanied by an uncontrolled increase in excessive gambling insofar as the average expenditure per player increased by “only” 7% in 2020.

Synthesis of 2020 activity data

 
Q4 2019
Q4 2020
Variation
2019
2020
Variation
Sports betting
Actives player accounts
1 917 000
2 402 000
+ 25%
3 443 000
4 478 000
+ 30%
Bets
1 500 m€
2 004 m€
+ 34%
5 056 m€
5 352 m€
+ 6%
Gross Gambling Revenue
230 m€
356 m€
+ 55%
880 m€
940 m€
+ 7%
Horse racing betting
 
 
 
 
 
 
Actives player accounts
333 000
388 000
+ 16%
599 000
628 000
+ 5%
Bets 
294 m€
448 m€
+ 53%
1 106 m€
1 473 m€
+ 33%
Gross Gambling Revenue
72 m€
105 m€
+ 47%
271 m€
354 m€
+ 31%
Poker
 
 
 
 
 
 
Actives player accounts
709 000
991 000
+ 40%
1 199 000
1 840 000
+ 53%
Gross Gambling Revenue
76 m€
117 m€
+ 54%
272 m€
446 m€
+ 64%
TOTAL
 
 
 
 
 
 
Actives player accounts
2 436 000
3 037 000
+ 25%
4 174 000
4 891 000
+ 17%
Gross Gambling Revenue
377 m€
578 m€
+ 53%
1 423 m€
1 740 m€
+ 22%

 

10 years after the opening up to competition, what has been achieved?

Ten years after the opening up of the online gambling market to competition, the sector of activity, driven by a dynamic and continuous growth, now represents around 17% of the total market turnover, compared to 7% in 2011. In total, the number of players has more than doubled between 2011 and 2020 while the Gross Gambling Revenue has almost tripled over the period, propelled by sports betting (+717%), the growth of poker (+42%) and horse betting (+46%).

The year 2020 seems to represent a turning point for the online gambling sector, which is no longer marginal and is driven by a rapid dynamic.

For Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, Chairwoman of the ANJ: “The good health of the online gambling sector, due in particular to the massive arrival of new players in sports betting and poker, means that operators must step up their initiatives to prevent problem gambling and protect minors. In line with the new obligations that came into force in 2020, they must better identify and assist at-risk players, provide tools for moderating play time or betting and ensure responsible promotional strategies. More than ever, and with major sporting events approaching before the summer, promoting recreational gambling must be a priority shared by all. “

 

Methodological reminder

This quarterly report was compiled on the basis of data transmitted by licensed online gambling and betting operators on a weekly or quarterly basis. The ANJ’s communications take into account statistical confidentiality. It may not publish information relating to the activity of the monopoly markets (FDJ and PMU) other than that already disclosed by the operators under exclusive rights.