French iGaming Breaks Records in 2020
France’s main gambling authority L’Autorité nationale des Jeux (ANJ) has recorded record-breaking numbers for the country’s iGaming market in 2020, showing results of €1.74 billion in generated revenue for the year. The market has clearly strongly recovered from the disruption of the opening six months of the year caused by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
ANJ Describes 2020 as “Extraordinary Year” for iGaming
France’s chief gambling regulator, L’Autorité nationale des Jeux (ANJ), has revealed that the country’s online gambling market saw record-breaking results in 2020 despite the impacts of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic — describing the year as “transformational” and “extraordinary.”
Having taken over all gambling regulation in France from ARJEL in June 2020 as one single unified regulatory body, the ANJ revealed its findings on 2020 in a recent press release:
“In many ways, 2020 is an extraordinary year and a turning point for the online gaming industry; it is both a year of change and a record year in terms of activity levels,”
said the ANJ.
Sports Betting Largely Fueled Market Growth
Beginning with sports betting, overall revenue in this sector increased by 6.8%, rounding out at €940 million. Wagered stakes grew by 5.8% up to €5.35 billion, largely due to a 30% growth in active player accounts.
A still-impressive €663 million in stakes were wagered on events in France, leading to €6.6 million being collected for betting rights duties. This nevertheless showed a 23.7% year-on-year decline compared to 2019 simply because many French sporting events were canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Breaking down sports betting into verticals, horse racing revenue amounted to €354 million in 2020, up 30.6%, while stakes increased by 32.7% up to €1.47 billion, making this the highest level ever reached since the market first opened, as well as the fastest year-on-year growth to date.
Meanwhile, active horse racing betting accounts grew by 4.8% up to 628,000, which led to horse racing levies growing by 23.4% up to €179 million. Stakes wagered on horse races which took place outside of France skyrocketed by 242.1%, up to €375 million.
Poker Also Enjoyed Significant Growth Throughout 2020
Pivoting over to poker, revenue in this sector also shot up by 64%, reaching a whopping €446 million, while active accounts grew by 53.1% up to 1.8 million. Poker tournaments made up the majority of the revenue share within this particular sector.
Finally, total deposits for the year came out to €3.18 billion, which was up 25.4%, while total withdrawals equaled €1.61 billion — up 21.6%. “Over the whole of 2020, the online market shows very vigorous growth,” said the ANJ in its most recent statement.
“The turnover of the sector grew by 22% in 2020 to reach €1.7bn: its highest level in a calendar year since the opening of the sector.”
In alignment with similar trends across Europe, the French gambling sector’s marketing spend for 2020 declined precipitously — down 62.7% to €161 million.
What little was spent on marketing, however, went towards bonuses, with 32% going towards retention bonuses, while 21% focused on new customer bonuses. Online advertising, meanwhile, made up only 16% of the sector’s marketing spend — and this includes affiliation.
Sports Betting Was Already Up in Q4 2020
Focusing solely on the fourth quarter of 2020, it becomes clear how and why sports betting helped fuel the French gambling sector’s unprecedented growth throughout the year — in the face of repeated nationwide lockdowns due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Overall sports betting revenue was up an impressive 54.8% in Q4 2020, totaling €356 million, with wagered stakes totaling a staggering €2.01 billion. Roughly €1.42 billion in bets were made on football alone, representing a whopping 68% growth.
The football tournament which generated the largest number of bets was the UEFA Champions League, which saw players stake €207 million. The English Premier League, meanwhile, harnessed bets of €165 million, while Italy’s Ligue 1 generated €140 million in bets.
In second place came tennis, which recorded €252 million in stakes, with €54 million going towards the French Open, which had been postponed to the end of the year due to the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Changes to the regular tennis calendar likely helped the sector grow by 34% year-on-year. Bets wagered on basketball, however, sank by 46%, down to €148 million. An emptier than normal fourth quarter schedule meant that bets on the NBA dropped down by 76% to only €41 million. When looking at sports bettor behavior, under half of these bet less than €100 — 47% to be exact. This group, however, represented a smaller slice of the overall market than in the same period in the previous year.
An additional 39% of sports bettors wagered bets anywhere in between €100 and €1,000, which was up slightly than Q4 2019.
French Regulator ANJ Took Over Gambling Regulation in June 2020
As mentioned earlier, French gambling regulatory body L’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) took over virtually all gambling regulation in the country from its predecessor l’Autorité Nationale de Régulation des Jeux en Ligne (ARJEL) in June 2020.
In contrast to ARJEL, L’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) now oversees all forms of gambling in France — and not solely online gambling. This new regime of French gambling regulation under the ANJ has seen the regulatory group partner with the French organization Union nationale des associations familiales (UNAF) to better protect the country’s minors from the pitfalls associated with underage gambling.
L’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) has likewise come out with recent criticism directed at two influential French gambling monopolies: lottery operator La Française des Jeux (FDJ) and racing monopoly Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU).
The regulator cited serious concerns surrounding the operators’ aggressive marketing strategies.