FRENCH OPERATORS LOST EURO 5 MILLION LAST YEAR
Regulators numbers show that in general French licensed operators lost money, thanks to restrictive regulations, a ring-fenced market and high taxation.
Numbers released by the French online gambling regulator ARJEL have illustrated the continued folly of a ring-fenced and restricted online gambling market saddled with a harsh and operator-unfriendly tax regime.
The figures show that collectively online operators lost Euro 5 million last year, with only horse racing delivering an operating surplus.
Even sports betting, usually a star punter attraction, generated unsatisfactory operating profits, with just five of the 11 licensed operators reporting profits, whilst only 2 of the 9 poker operators prospered.
From a cumulative perspective, French licensed operators have incurred operating losses of Euro 471 million since the market was liberalised six years ago; broken down as sports betting Euro 222 million, poker Euro 206 million; and racing Euro 43 million.
ARJEL has reiterated its three-pronged suggested solution:
* Consider a more benign tax regime;
* Allow operators to offer a more diverse (read casino gaming) online choice of gambling;
* Allow poker operators to pool their players with other regulated and like-minded nations.
The market potential, illustrated by punter interest, is clearly present. ARJELs 2015 numbers show that:
* Sports betting turnover was up 30 percent y-o-y at Euro 1.44 billion, with H1-2016 turnover already up 60 percent at Euro 1.1 billion;
* Sports revenue of Euro 270 million last year – up 19 percent.
However, online poker is in difficulties, with turnover declining 4 percent last year to Euro 232 million, and cash game spend down 14 percent at Euro 101 million. Tournament stakes show a somewhat brighter picture – up 14 percent at Euro 131 million.
Worryingly, player numbers are shrinking, too – in 2015 active player numbers sank almost 4.5 percent to 235,000 in the ring-fenced market.
In 2015 the online horse racing vertical suffered its worst year since regulation, with both turnover and revenue slipping for the third consecutive year.
Turnover declined 2 percent y-o-y to Euro 1 billion, although revenue remained relatively steady compared to the previous year at Euro 254 million. So far this year the portents for the vertical are not good – wagering has declined by 10 percent in H1-2016.
Overall, mobile betting is apparently becoming more popular with French punters, with 53 percent of sports wagers delivered from the mobile channel last year; 46 percent of the poker action, and 36 percent of racing stakes.
The French online gambling market at the end of 2015 comprised 16 operators with 29 licenses for sports betting (11), poker (10) and racing (8).