France: online betting growth but "tax system is heavy burden on sector", says ARJEL

French regulator report shows betting vertical up 23% to €633m on Q1 2016 and calls for reevaluation of tax on stakes.


French regulator report shows betting vertical up 23% to €633m on Q1 2016 and calls for reevaluation of tax on stakes.

ARJEL's first quarter figures showed that online sports betting sales increased 23% on the same period in 2016 to hit a record €633m (£548m/$710m), with a significant rise in the number of female punters one of the stand out stats of the report.

The latest quarterly figures for online betting are the highest ever recorded for the vertical in France and are higher than those achieved by operators in the opening year of regulation, when they reached €592m in 2011.

Betting gross win was up 16% on first quarter 2016 figures to reach €94m, swelled by growth in active player accounts.

Sports betting overall also saw a demographic change with female sports bettors growing 40% to 79,000, nearly twice the growth rate of male gamblers, who increased in numbers by 21% to 829,000.

Football, tennis and basketball made up most of the sports betting scene in France for the first quarter of this year, accounting for 89% of all wagers.

In its annual report, ARJEL commented the quarterly results showed once again that online sports betting was the only vertical growing, even though both online poker and horse racing pari mutuel were showing some encouraging signs. “In this context,” ARJEL said, “maintaining a fiscal arrangement that taxes operators on stakes when they pay out so much to their players in winnings along with a very restrictive licensed offering that doesn’t take into account the expectations and habits of the new generations, puts an increasingly heavy burden on the licensed market in the face of an illegal offer which, despite the efforts of ARJEL, is intensifying.” France’s regulator added that the introduction of new online poker variants had enabled the vertical to address the decline in activity, while other measures such as the opening of European liquidity between regulated poker rooms should also help the vertical. “We should go beyond and consider a diversification of the regulated offer that reconciles the recreational and attractive nature of gambling,” ARJEL added.

Online horse racing pari mutuel figures dropped, with revenue down 4% to €61m year-on-year. Demographic differences were clear, with 79% of French race bettors being 35 years old or above and 68% of sports bettors being below the age of 35.

Online poker increased sales by 3% year-on-year to €64m, despite weekly active players actually falling 1% to 255,000.

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