France Finished 2016 Strong Overall, But Poker is Still a Thorn

Lee R. - February 18, 2017

Horse racing and poker need to be resolved once and for all.

France finished strong, but did not solve its poker problem.

Poker Hole

Driven by strong sports betting in Q4, the results still revealed a continuing decline in the online poker vertical.  

Online Sports Betting Thrives

French gambling regulator ARJEL’s figures for online sports betting turnover of €532m for Q4 2016 reflect a solid 18% improvement year-on-year from the same quarter of 2015. The figure also represents the second highest total ever since the regulated market launched in 2010, with only Q2 2016 topping.

Pride of the Market

France’s sports betting figures are a model for sustainability, with revenue jumping 9% for Q4 to €89m as weekly active bettors shot up 14% to 275k. The 2016 totals for betting handle vaulted 44.5% to €2.08b, with accompanying revenue climbing 29% to €349m, thanks to Euro 2016 and Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.

Sole Betting Issue

The sole lagging betting vertical continues to be horseracing, a handle whose decline continued in Q4 7% to €246m, with overall betting revenue slipping another €5m to €62m.  


The handle decline figures did nonetheless improve from -12% and -11% in Q2 and Q3 2016 respectively to bring the race handle year-on-year drop to €924m 9% and revenue drop 8% to €234m.


The other thorn for France after Q4 is cash game poker stakes, which fell 0.4% to €933m for a staggering 21 consecutive weeks of negative growth. The decline nonetheless reflected the lowest rate recorded in 2016 with the December figures actually ultimately showing improvement.

Silver Lining Sliver

ARJEL actually praised the fact that the decline of cash poker is slowing, attributing the development to French legislation of new game variants in October.  However, a dubious 7% Q4 drop in weekly active player numbers to 71k completed a downward trend for the year.


Slowing a decline is a step in the right direction, but France is going to have to make those numbers show progress if they expect overall market growth to expand.

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