Eyes turn to France as market opens up

23 September 2009

LONDON, England -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- Currently, the gambling industry has its eyes on France, and many operators expect a boost for their business from the opening of the French online gambling market that is scheduled for 2010. Their optimism seems to be justified now that the draft of the legal bill opening up France's online betting and poker market is just meters away from adoption; additionally the online gambling market is expected to grow to Euro 1.7 billion (gross revenues) by 2015. The consulting firm MECN and law firm Ulys have compiled a new landmark report that offers an unprecedented in-depth analysis of the French gambling market.

Liberalisation of interactive/online betting and poker markets in spring/summer 2010

One of the key aspects of the planned liberalisation, which will probably take effect in summer 2010, will be the opening of the interactive/online sports and horse race betting markets as well as of online poker. Although the draft regulation will likely be adapted, and many issues (e.g., tax schemes) are still criticised by many operators, the strategies of most operators clearly target France. As one representative of an online gambling heavyweight put it: "We will enter the French market as soon as possible – no matter what it takes." According to MECN's new research, ca. 80% of the gambling operators and experts surveyed consider the French market relevant or even very relevant for their future business – this testifies to the hope the entire industry places in this upcoming market.

The focus is on online sports betting and poker – more than 2/3 of operators surveyed want to obtain an online poker license

The operators will focus on online poker and sports betting because they expect the French market to outstrip even the success story of the Italian online poker and betting market. Despite the many unresolved issues of the upcoming liberalisation, 77% of the operators surveyed in MECN's study are looking to obtain a French online poker license. On the other hand, horse race betting monopolist PMU may be able to breathe a sigh of relief because horse race betting licenses are not nearly as popular.

France will most likely become one of the key online gambling markets worldwide - Euro 1.7 billion market (gross revenue) expected by 2015

The pure facts make the French gambling market (online and land-based) a compelling target: In terms of turnover/sales, the total licensed gambling market (incl. casinos) in France was ca. Euro 70 billion in 2008. In terms of gross revenue, the market achieved Euro 8.5 billion in 2008. While the horse race betting market has a long tradition in France, sports betting and poker are not as developed and thus offer great potential for future growth.

MECN expects that in terms of gross revenues (sales/turnover less payout of prizes and winnings) the French interactive/online gambling market will grow by a factor of nearly six from currently ca. Euro 300 million to ca. Euro 1.7 billion by 2015. In terms of sales/turnover, the market will grow from currently ca. Euro 1 billion to ca. Euro 18 billion by 2015. As Martin Oelbermann, director of MECN, stresses: "The French market will give the global online gambling market a new push and develop into one of the key markets worldwide with online poker paving the way".