ARJEL Figures Expose French Regulation Model as a Work in Progress

Lee R. - October 1, 2016

The French market is shaping up as a survival test for sports betting operators.

While French sports betting in 2015 may have been a dog for licensees, it remains far too far a reach for most operators to pull out of the French market.

ARJEL Reports Losses

National gambling regulator ARJEL did report a collective €5 million ($5.6 million) operating loss for the country’s licensed betting operators in 2015. 

The Biggest Hits

Sportsbook and online poker took equal hits, losing €7 million each for the 12 months ending December 31st.

Sports betting Struggles

Further, out of 11 total sports betting operators active in the country, only five came with any kind of operating profit in the ARJEL report, while seven of nine poker brands posting losses.

Sole Success

In fact, the only betting vertical to show a positive gain for its licensed operators in France was racing, which generated a decent €10 million in total revenues.

Yet Market Grows

However, despite the ominous figures for individual operators, the overall market is still nothing short of robust year-on-year, with turnover reaching a record €1.4 billion in 2015 for a 30% jump. 

H1 Gathers Momentum

Further, the momentum of growth has only picked up, with ARJEL’s H1 figures for 2016 showing turnover for the six month period at €1.1 billion, good for a 60% year-on-year jump.

Activity Leaders

The most popular sport for French punters is football as usual, holding a 53% share of the sports betting market. Tennis was second at 20%.

H1 Losers

ARJEL identified H1 losses in online poker, down 4% year-on-year to €232 million; and horseracing, down 2% to €1 billion. Horseracing losses do have a silver lining, improving significantly from the previous year’s 7%.

Regulation Totals

The new ARJEL figures bring the total operating loss since the regulated market launched in 2010 for French-licensed operators to €471m. Sports betting is the loss leader with €222m, followed by poker (€206m) and racing (€43m

Adaptive Measures

To pass the revenue benefits onto individual French-facing operators, ARJEL suggests tax reform, expanding the variety of online products licensees can offer, and sharing poker liquidity with other European regulated markets.

Hanging Tough

As the French regulator, ARJEL’s suggestion to make things more hospitable to licensees is not likely to be lost on French legislators. Operators still standing in the French market at the end of the adaptation process should thrive.   

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