L’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ), France’s new unified gambling regulator, has reported in its first annual market summary that French online gambling achieved record results despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
The country’s online betting industry recorded total revenues of €1.74bn, up 22% on full-year 2019 results of €1.42bn.
ANJ noted that market growth was driven by a combination of factors that saw new market players benefit from the strong take-up of digital gaming services during the health crisis.
Despite the cancellation of all French professional sports leagues from April onwards, sports betting revenue jumped by 7% to €940m (FY2019: €880m).
The regulator stated that sports betting incumbents had registered one million new customers during 2020, aiding the sector’s recovery during the second half of year trading.
Elsewhere, PMU’s focus on the digitisation of its products saw French racing record a 33% increase in totalizer wagers to €1.5bn (FY2019: €1.1bn).
Racing achieved a new ‘historical growth benchmark’ in revenues to €354m (FY2019: €272m), a positive result as the sport’s monopoly PMU had to sustain its business whilst dealing with the total wipeout of its point-of-sale network.
Further positives saw PMU increase its active customer base by 5% to 630,000 (2019: 599,000) with racing punters switching over to its new digital offering.
Online poker revenues hit a record €450m, up 64% on 2019 results of €272m, ‘erasing its previous benchmark of 2011, the first full year of the market opening’.
For 2021, the ANJ has issued its new ‘technical command‘ to licensed operators, which it will use to present deeper reporting of online gambling performance auditing all product performance.
ANJ Chairwoman, Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, further warned incumbents that 2021 would be a year of transformative change for French gambling with regards to their safer gambling and social responsibility duties.
She commented: “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 playtime or betting and ensure responsible promotional strategies. This is more important than ever, and with major sporting events approaching before the summer, promoting recreational gambling must be a priority shared by all.”
Early 2021 developments have seen the ANJ secure federal approval on the formation of a new problem gambling and addiction strategy to be implemented across French regions and health services.