FDJ; operator reflects on lottery success after rise in 2022 revenue
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French lottery has remained a consistent growth driver during H1 2023, according to the Autorité nationale des jeux (ANJ) regulator, but is being overshadowed by sports betting.

Lottery stakes rose 2% to €8.2bn, the segment proved to be less of a growth driver for the state-backed La Français des Jeux (FDJ) than sports betting, which accounted for a significant proportion of H1 2023 GGR .

ANJ explained: “Usually a driver of growth in the operator’s GGR, lottery activities remain efficient but at a lower rate than sports betting activities, at points of sale and online, which benefited from the dynamic generated by the Coupe du world 2022 with the recruitment of new punters.”

In its breakdown of French betting and gaming activity for the first half of 2023, the national regulator reported a 4% year-on-year increase in total gross gambling revenue (GGR) to €5.3bn (€5bn).

The ANJ’s figures represent the activities of FDJ and Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) – the state-backed parimutuel horse racing betting operator – but not casinos and gaming clubs.

Of the €5.3bn total GGR, FDJ and PMU accounted for 78% with revenue of €4.2bn, whilst the remaining 22% of €1.2bn was generated by ‘competition’ – meaning other licenced operators, such as Betclic.

There are two primary reasons for this growth according to FDJ, one related to betting and the other to gaming. Firstly, the aforementioned impact of the World Cup and momentum carrying on into the domestic season, and secondly the inclusion of poker into FDJ’s online product in the second half of 2022.

“This growth, present in all segments, is partly explained by the enthusiasm for sports betting generated by the Football World Cup in Qatar played in December 2022,” ANJ’s statement read.

“This event enabled the recruitment of new players to the both on the sports betting market but also indirectly, via cross-selling operations by operators, on the poker market.”

In its report, ANJ also highlighted diversification as a significant trend affecting FDJ’s H1 2023 trading, not just with regards to products – such as the abovementioned inclusion of poker – but also regarding its international operations.

Late 2022 saw FDJ acquire Dutch firm ZETurf. However, although lottery revenue may have been overshadowed by sports betting in France, FDJ’s lottery operations have been significant for its international activity. 

This has included an agreement with International Game Technology (IGT) covering the transfer of lottery products between the French and Italian markets, although perhaps the most significant development has been in Ireland.

At the same time as reporting its own H1 report in July – outlining revenue growth of 6% from €1.2bn to €1.3bn – the group revealed that it had acquired Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI), and in doing so the licence to Ireland’s National Lottery until 2034.

ANJ detailed that these international activities now represent 6% of FDJ’s overall turnover, having generated turnover of €74m during the first half of the year.

The report continued: “The recent acquisition last July of the rights to the Irish lottery until 2034 through the company Premier Lotteries Ireland should boost this segment and underlines the desire for diversification of the FDJ internationally.”

In general, online gaming witnessed ‘significant momentum’ during H1, increasing 10% to €1.2bn (€1bn). 

This is still lower than the first half of 2021 however, which the ANJ attributed to the delayed UEFA Euro 2020, as well as a number of postponed horse racing meetings.

Overall, sports betting accounted for 64% of overall French GGR during the first half at €750m, followed by 15% from online poker at €251m and 21% from horse racing betting at €177m.

Compared to H1 2022, sports betting GGR rose 10% from €685m, poker by 16% from €216m and horse race betting by 5% from €169m.