Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, ANJ
Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin

ANJ: Transformative 2021 marks sports betting as France’s ‘hyper-growth segment’

French gambling witnessed a ‘spectacular year of online growth’, according to the 2021 Market Report published by l’Autorite Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) – French gambling’s unified regulatory authority.

Mitigating continued COVID-19 circumstances impacting land-based venues and the sporting calendar, France’s gambling market recorded total GGR turnover of €10.7bn up 7% on FY2020 results of €10bn.

Described ‘as the first pillar of the French gambling market’, state-sanctioned monopoly operators Française des Jeux (lottery & retail betting) and PMU (horseracing) accounted for 70% of GGR registering combined revenues of €8.5bn.

The growth of the monopoly operators was attributed to the strong recovery of FDJ’s lottery retail network combined and improved online sales that registered a 16% increase in lottery GGR to €5bn.

Returning to normalised trading conditions, PMU horseracing activities registered a GGR of €1.5 billion, 16% above FY2020 results. Yet,  PMU turnover remains below the pre-covid 2019 records of €1.8bn as French racing registered a 1% year-on-year decline in active customers to 625,000.

Meanwhile, forced to close venues for the first half of year trading, France’s land-based casinos recorded a 41% decline in GGR to €1bn.

Marked as the market’s ‘hyper-growth segment’, French online gambling (sports betting, horseracing bets and online poker) for the first time broke the €2bn turnover threshold registering a combined GGR of €2.2bn.

ANJ noted that online growth was driven by the ‘powerful engine of sports betting’ that delivered record-breaking wagers/stakes of €7bn, helping the segment achieve FY2021 GGR of €1.33bn (FY2020: €940m).

Of significance, ANJ stated that sports betting had achieved its fifth year of consecutive double-digit growth in active customers, registering 4.5 million players during the course of 2021.

ANJ noted – “This exceptional increase compared to 2020 benefited from an attractive sports calendar, culminating in the Euro 2020 football tournament which generated €445m in stakes. Football remains by far the sporting discipline that generates the most bets.”

“In 2021, sports betting represents 82% of active player accounts (AGA) in the online gaming sector. The number of CJAs in sports betting increased by 16% in 2021 compared to 2020, to 4.5 million. Finally, the turnover per active player account grew by around 25% to reach 303 euros in 2021, a sign that the market is still expanding.”

Matched against a record-breaking 2020 comparative figures, French online poker registered a 4% decline in GGR to €430m, primarily attributed to a 10% decline in active customers of 1.6 million.  

Of significance, ANJ reported that for the first time the French online gambling vertical had surpassed active player accounts of 5 million as the market’s customer base grew to +5.4m customers during 2021.

Deemed as its core priority, ANJ continues to monitor French sportsbook operators advertising activities, in which the regulator published its guidelines and standards this February.

The regulator is currently working with wider French government agencies to deliver a new advertising framework for French sports betting and online gambling to be adopted by operators by the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar this winter.

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