In the first quarter of 2018, France reports that it's seeing record growth in the country's online gambling industry. Online gambling was legalized in 2010, with legislation strictly regulating horse race and sports betting along with online poker. Most of the record-breaking growth is driven through a larger amount of player accounts.
France's online gambling is regulated through ARJEL (Autorite de regulation des jeuxenligne). ARJEL released the quarterly review of France's online game industry earlier this month, publishing data for the period from the start of the year to March 31. Every single online operator that ARJEL regulates has shown significant growth since the beginning of the year. In the first quarter, online betting companies had a cumulative wager worth of €847 million. This is a 34% increase from the same time period at the start of 2017. 2017 first quarter wagers had a cumulative total of €633 million. Gross gambling revenue showed an even faster growth rate, with a fifty-five percent increase from €94 million to €147 million.
According to ARJEL, the unprecedented growth rates are a result of an increased amount of active accounts. That said, an individual player can have multiple accounts with different operators, so the number of active accounts does not accurately reflect the number of players. 2017 saw 1.5 million active player accounts, but this number had increased to 1.9 million in 2018. Most online gamblers are men, but the rate of growth for woman players is incredibly rapid, an increase of 30%. Men saw a growth rate of 24% – still high, but not as high.
Online sports betting saw an even more pronounced increase in accounts run by women, increasing at a rate of 69% compared to the previous year. There are currently 134,000 active online sports betting accounts maintained by women. The male increase was 42%. The female growth wasn't so dramatic in horse racing or online poker, which only saw 5% and 7% growth rates respectively. ARJEL says that bonuses and promotions were the main factor in the account number increase. 462,500 gamblers were active on a weekly basis, largely due to the bonuses offered by online gambling operators.
Online gambling encompasses a wide range of different operations. The fastest growing piece of the market is sports bets, which brought in €847 million in 2018's first quarter, an increase of 34% over last year. More than 120,000 new accounts have been created in the past year. In total, 1.3 million accounts have placed a bet at least once over the total quarterly period. On football in particular, wagers saw an increase of 34% and brought in €465 million total. Meanwhile, tennis bets have grown by 26% with a total of €163 million, and basketball bets have increased by fifty-three percent. During the Winter Olympics, wagers pulled in only €4.4 million, less than expected. Almost half of the Winter Olympics bets were placed live.
Sports betting is the favorite online gambling activity of the French, with the other industries clearly lagging behind. That said, growth across all segments is breaking records.