French regulator L’Autorité nationale des Jeux (ANJ) has reported record online gambling revenue of €1.74bn for 2020, as the market recovered strongly from the disruption of the opening six months of the year in H2.
The ANJ, which took over regulation of online gambling from ARJEL in 2020 to unify gambling regulation under one body, said the year was transformational following the impact of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
“In many ways, 2020 is an extraordinary year and a turning point for the online gaming industry; it is both a year of change and a record year in terms of activity levels,” ANJ said.
Sports betting revenue was up 6.8% to €940m. This came as stakes grew 5.8% to €5.35bn, or €5.49bn when bonuses are included, thanks in part to a 30% growth in active player accounts.
This included €663m staked on events in France, which led to collection of €6.6m for betting rights duties. However, this represented a 23.7% decline from 2019, due to the cancellation of many French sporting events.
Horse racing revenue totalled €354m, up 30.6%, as stakes increased by 32.7% to €1.47bn – the highest level since the market opened and the fastest year-on-year growth. Active accounts grew 4.8% to 628,000, leading to horse racing levies growing 23.4% to €179m.
Stakes on races run outside of France shot up by 242.1% to €375m, with the remaining handle wagered on French races.
Poker revenue skyrocketed by 64.0% to €446m, as accounts grew by 53.1% to 1.8 million. Tournaments made up the majority of poker revenue.
Total deposits for the year came to €3.18bn, up 25.4%, and total withdrawals €1.61bn, up 21.6%.
“Over the whole of 2020, the online market shows very vigorous growth,” the regulator said. “The turnover of the sector grew by 22% in 2020 to reach €1.7bn: its highest level in a calendar year since the opening of the sector.”
Marketing spend for the year declined by 62.7% to €161m. The majority of marketing spend was on bonuses, with 32% on retention bonuses and 21% on new customer bonuses. Online advertising, including affiliation, made up 16% of marketing spend.
Looking just at the fourth quarter of 2020, sports betting revenue was up 54.8% to €356m on stakes totalling €2.01bn.
This included bets worth €1.42bn on football, up 68%. The most popular football competition for betting was the Uefa Champions League, where players staked €207m. The Premier League saw bets of €165m, and Ligue 1 €140m.
Tennis recorded the second highest stakes, at €252m, including €54m on the French Open, which was shifted to the end of the year because of the pandemic. These changes to the calendar helped tennis stakes grow 34% year-on-year.
Basketball bets, however, were down 46% to €148m, with bets on the NBA down 76% to €41m because of a quieter than usual fourth quarter schedule.
Rugby, volleyball, handball and ice hockey all saw at least €19m wagered.
Just under half (47%) of sports bettors bet less than €100, though this group was a smaller proportion of the overall market than in Q4 of 2019. A further 39% of bettors wagered between €100 and €1,000, up slightly.
The portion wagering between €1,000 and €3,000 was also up slightly at 9%, while 4% of players bet between €3,000 and €10,000, 1% bet more than €10,000 but less than €50,000 and 0.09% bet more than €50,000, all roughly stable year-on-year.
This meant that 10% of player accounts represented 73% of betting turnover, while 1% of accounts represented 33% of turnover.
Horse racing brought in €105m, up 45.8%, on stakes of €448m, up 52.3%. While 59% of players bet less than €300, down from 64% in 2019, the portion making larger bets increased.
ANJ noted that 2% of players bet between €10,000 and €50,000 and 0.1% bet more than €50,000.
Like with sports betting, 10% of accounts represented 73% of turnover but in this case the top 1% of accounts represented 30% of turnover.
Poker revenue came to €117m, a 53.9% increase from 2019. For cash poker games, 10% of players represented 91% of stakes and 1% of players represented 72%.
For poker tournaments, 10% of players represented 79% of entry fees and the top 1% represented 43% of these fees.