Land-Based Gambling Returns to France as Online Segment Sees Decline

Posted on: October 7, 2022, 10:10h. 

Last updated on: October 7, 2022, 10:50h.

Consistent with trends seen in other markets, France’s gaming industry is showing signs of recovery following COVID-19. Also, like what’s been seen elsewhere, land-based gambling is gaining more ground than the online segment.

French gaming and lottery operator FDJ
French gaming and lottery operator FDJ vehicles on tour promoting French lottery products. The operator and others in the country are performing better, although online gaming has slipped. (Image: Le Monde du Tabac)

For the first half of the year, overall gaming revenue rose 6.9% in France. This was thanks to the full opening of physical casinos, which faced intermittent COVID-19 shutdowns throughout 2019 and 2020.

The improvement isn’t that significant until it’s compared to what the online segment produced. It lost 11.2% in the first half from where it was a year earlier.

French Gaming Swings Upward

Figures from France’s gambling regulator, ANJ, show total revenues of €5.26 billion (US$5.13 billion). This is a substantial gain from the €4.92 billion (US$4.79 billion) in the first half of 2021. Française Des Jeux (FDJ) maintained its place as the leading operator, generating €3.22 billion (US$3.14 billion). That represents a year-on-year revenue improvement of 12.4%.

Spending with FDJ increased by 9.9% to €10 billion (US$9.75 billion). The operator’s lottery revenue rose 16%, reaching €2.73 billion (US$2.66 billion). Sports betting fell 4.5% to €485 million (US$472.92 million).

Horse racing betting operator Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) recorded gross gaming revenue of €969 million (US$944.87 million), up 14.5%. That put it at almost the same level it was at before the pandemic. Bets increased by 18% to €3.9 billion (US$3.8 billion) thanks to the total opening of retail establishments.

The online segment painted a completely different picture. Revenue dropped by 11.2%, closing at just €1.07 billion (US$1.65 billion). Online sports betting revenue lost 11.8% with its €685 million (US$667.94 million) total.

That was against €4 billion (US$3.9 billion) in bets, a loss of 8.3%. The drop was partly due to the presence of Euro 2020 during the first half of last year.

Online horse racing betting revenue fell 17.6% to €169 million (US$164.8 million) against bets of €727 million (US$708.9 million). Given the increase in the retail segment, the 17.5% drop isn’t surprising.

Online poker helped a little, contributing €216 million (US$210.62 million). That was just a 3.1% drop, but it’s still higher than before COVID-19.

FDJ Enters the Payments Space

FDJ Group, which owns FDJ, is branching out into other commercial activities. It recently announced the launch of Nirio, a payments platform it developed with the French Confederation of Tobacco Retailers.

Nirio allows consumers to pay certain bills at a wider range of establishments than before, including bars, tobacco shops, and kiosks. The consumer scans the bill into the Nirio app and receives a barcode, which it presents to make the payment.

There are already 5,000 locations France’s financial watchdog has approved to offer the solution, with another 5,000 in the wings. FDJ sees it as a “practical and fast way” for those resistant to online payments to settle their bills.

As the ANJ continues to evolve as France’s single regulator, it’s making changes to meet the times. Last month, it announced that Isabelle Falque Pierrotin would remain president, but that it had replaced three members. Éliane Houlette, Mario Blaise, and Wilfried Sand-Zantman decided to step down, with They Thomas de Ricolfis, Jean-Pierre Couteron, and Isabelle Bordry taking their places.