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France’s online gambling sector continued its upward trend through the first quarter of the year, posting a 35 per cent increase in revenue to €587m (2020: €435m).

The increase is partly attributed to a 19 per cent uptick in active accounts to 3.07m (2020: 2.59m), with it said that “each online gaming segment open to competition is still experiencing very strong growth in activity”.

“These performances illustrate the acceleration of the digitisation of gambling practices, which is a consequence of the health crisis and whose structuring nature will have to be confirmed in the long term,” the French regulator ANJ noted upon publishing the figures. 

“As such, the levels of growth recorded in the first quarter of 2021, which are measured against the first quarter of 2020, must be received with a certain degree of caution since, on the one hand, they are influenced upwards, for both online betting segments, by the losses of activities linked to the suspensions of French sports competitions and horse races and, on the other hand, downward trend for the online poker market, due to the peak of activity recorded at the same time last year.”

Online poker, off the back of recording the highest increase in turnover during the past year, saw its pace slow somewhat to increase revenue by 23 per cent to €120m (2020: €98m).

The number of active online poker players rose nine per cent to 991,000 (2020: 906,000), however it’s warned that Q2 could buck the trend of stellar increases after 2020 showed “an exceptional level of activity” due to lockdowns and sporting cancellations.

Online sports betting surged 79 per cent in stakes to €2.18bn (2020: €1.22m), with GGR up 38 per cent to €357m (2020: €263m), and the number of active accounts closing at 2.46m, which represents a 29 per cent increase from 1.91m.

The growth of the country’s online horse racing betting market is also said to be continuing at “a very sustained pace,” with stakes up 60 per cent to €481m (2020: €300m), to finish with the highest volume recorded over a quarter. 

Revenue from the six licensed horse betting operators reached €110m euros, an increase of 48 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2020’s €74m. Active player accounts scored a 13 per cent rise to 402,000 (2020: 357,000).

Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, president of the ANJ, commented: “The dynamics of online games were confirmed again this quarter and accelerated. It calls for certain vigilance and must be accompanied in order to guarantee the protection of players, especially in the run-up to major sporting events such as the football Euro or the Tokyo Olympics. 

“As such, the ANJ reminded operators of the need for their commercial communications to stress the importance of maintaining a moderate and controlled gaming practice and that the bonus or welcome offers they offer are sufficiently clear, allowing players understand the commitments they underpin. 

“In addition, the ANJ will pay particular attention to the sites of prognosticators or tipsters which have recently developed strongly. Some of these sites are indeed deceptive marketing practices and present a real danger to players. “