French Casinos Reopening 15 December
All French land-based gaming will be able to reopen from the 15th of December in strict accordance with precautions mandated by the government, announced the Casinos de France trade union.
The Casinos de France trade union, which represents registered professional casino workers around France, greatly welcomed the decision to reopen all land-based offerings in the country in the wake of France’s second nationwide lockdown. It described the move as being essential for the wellbeing of French citizens, as well as for the economic stability of several major French cities.
France entered its strict nationwide lockdown, the second of its kind this year, on the 30th of October. Initially intended to run only until the 1st of December, the lockdown will gradually start to become relaxed from the 15th of December, in preparation for the coming Christmas and New Years’ period. Solely basic and essential shops are allowed to stay open during the lockdown period, meaning that casinos, betting shops and bingo halls, as well as other leisure facilities, remain closed for the time being.
Trade Union Ensures Casinos Will Expand Strict Hygiene Protocols
The gambling sphere was one of the first major industries in France to commit to a strict health protocol once retail outlets opened up again in June following the country’s initial lockdown period that began in the Spring. According to the Casinos de France union, measures such as the use of nose and mouth coverings, physical barriers and consistent disinfection have been in regular practice since June.
The trade union even revealed that casinos are preparing to take further steps in relation to comprehensive hygiene plans as they gear up towards reopening on the 15th of December. According to the union, tougher measures such as stricter capacity limits on indoor venues, as well as mandatory customer registration processes in accordance with GDPR laws, will all be implemented upon reopening.
Additional suggestions concerning hygiene regulations came in the form of an increase in the frequency at which indoor venues and their machines are disinfected, according to the Casinos de France trade union. Establishments will also aim to better promote digital tools such as France’s contract tracing application “TousAntiCovid”, as well as take customers’ temperature readings before they enter the establishment.
French Retail Gambling Market Lagging Behind Due to Coronavirus Restrictions
The latent effects caused by imposed coronavirus-related restrictions on gambling in France have been felt unevenly across different verticals. While some markets experienced surprising amounts of growth, namely in the iGaming and sports betting spheres, retail outlets have gone through a slump — particularly accentuated by France’s strict nationwide lockdowns which have seen all non-essential business shutter.
The three months leading up to the 30th of September saw online gambling in France rise to €405m (£361.5m/$482.2m), which represents a 25.4% turnover growth in comparison to this year’s second quarter. A stronger Q3 showing for iGaming this year compared to Q2 is perhaps unsurprising seeing as all sporting events, including French domestic leagues, were canceled during France’s first national lockdown imposed in order to combat the initial coronavirus (Covid-19) viral outbreak in the Spring.
This growth clearly indicates that sports betting verticals have become the main form of gambling in France once again — even despite the uncertainty posed by the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak this year. With a recorded turnover of €228 million during 2020’s third quarter, the number of active players in the sports betting realm has also increased, revealing a +37% increase when compared to the same period in 2019, with particular growth seen in the 18-24 year old age group. Fueling such remarkable growth in sports betting was the arrival of this year’s UEFA Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain, where a record-breaking €31 million in stakes was put down for the football championship final.
A particular standout amongst sports betting in France this year came in the form of online horse racing. Following growth in this year’s second quarter, horse racing also grew in Q3, this time by 34%. And no matter the coronavirus-related imposed restrictions, a whopping €363 million in stakes were generated by the activity, thereby setting the record for the highest-ever amount of stakes recorded in online horse racing gambling in a given quarter.
While France’s retail gambling offerings enjoyed a brief moment in the sun during this past summer, when coronavirus-related restrictions were notably relaxed, it failed to achieve such marked growth as the online gambling sector. And now with yet another strict nationwide lockdown under France’s belt, retail establishments are in dire need of some leeway.
The forced closure of 4,000 bars, restaurants and shops out of the 13,000 total retail establishments that make up Pari-Mutuel Urbain’s (PMU) monopoly until the 1st of December, as part of the country’s second nationwide lockdown instituted at the end of October, has severely impacted daily turnover, causing it to sink by a significant 20% to 30%. And while online horse racing betting has enjoyed a surprising surge this year, France Galop, the governing body for flat and steeplechase racing in the country, has warned of significant losses if the lockdown is to continue into December.
Therefore, the reopening of casinos on the 15th of December, albeit with strict hygiene rules, is sure to be warmly welcomed by bodies such as France Galop, as well as retail establishments and operators overall. While it may take significantly more time, combined with stable and relaxed coronavirus restrictions, in order for retail gambling to rise to the level of growth seen in online gambling this year, the reopening of this long-valued sector will surely help set it on the correct path.