French online poker surges as Covid-19 hits sports betting

Revenue from online poker grew 82.4 per cent in the first half.
Revenue from online poker grew 82.4 per cent in the first half.

Record performance of poker and horses saw online gambling grow in H1 despite the pandemic.

France.- Online poker has skyrocketed in France since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, with revenue increasing 82.4 per cent year-on-year to €239million for the six months ending June 30.

Poker generated €110million in revenue during France’s Covid-19 lockdown from March 16 to May 10, up 175 per cent from €40million in the same period in 2019. The number of accounts active per week leapt 89 per cent year-on-year.

In the second quarter, poker brought in the highest revenue of all online gambling products at €142million, an increase of more than 100 per cent on Q2 2019 and the largest year-on-year increase for a quarter that France has seen.

The number of active player accounts in Q2 climbed 67.8 per cent to 1.01 million, while the average spend per active account increased 35.4 per cent to €134.

As a result of the contribution from poker, overall online gaming revenue in France actually climbed 8.3 per cent year-on-year to €758million for H1 despite the drop in sports betting due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Overall revenue for the second quarter fell six per cent year-on-year to €323million. The fall was mainly due to a 56 per cent drop in online sports betting to €94million. 

The horserace betting market, however, grew 33 per cent year-on-year to €88million – a record high since the opening of the regulated market in 2010.

Despite racing remaining suspended until May 11, the amount wagered on horses increased 35 per cent compared to the second quarter of 2019 to €362million.

France Galop, the governing body for flat and steeplechase racing, said overall wagers on racing for the year to date were down year-on-year but that since racing returned in May, revenue has surpassed 2019 levels every week.

Horse race betting operator Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU) has raised its full-year profit forecasts as a result.

The French regulator L’Autorité nationale des jeux (ANJ) said horse racing benefited from players shifting from other sports and also from wagers on overseas races while French racing was suspended.

The regulator attempted to mitigate the loss of sports betting revenue due to the cancellation of major sports events, including the curtailment of France’s Ligue 1 football, by approving betting on alternative competitions.

It approved betting on Australian rules football, Hungary’s domestic football cup, South Korean and Chinese leagues, Korean baseball and Belarusian hockey.

The amount wagered on sports over the first six months of 2020 was down 30.0 per cent year-on-year at €1.73billion. Revenue fell 18.3 per cent year-on-year to €356million.

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