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ARJEL: French igaming market hamstrung by high taxes

| By Joanne Christie
Market's annual and Q1 reports lead to call from igaming regulator ARJEL for changes to tax regime to allow market to thrive.

The latest set of reports from France’s regulator ARJEL make for some interesting reading, with both its annual report and quarterly figures released last week.

In its report for the first quarter of 2017 it said  sports betting rose 23% on the same quarter the previous year to €633m, the highest ever level for the vertical since regulation was introduced in 2011.

However, the figure would be much higher if the French government was willing to rethink its taxation model, according to ARJEL.

In its annual report (published below), it said: “Maintaining a fiscal arrangement that taxes operators on stakes when they pay out so much to their players in winnings along with a very restrictive licensed offering that doesn’t take into account the expectations and habits of the new generations, puts an increasingly heavy burden on the licensed market in the face of an illegal offer which, despite the efforts of ARJEL, is intensifying.”

Given that operators have been calling for changes to the tax rate ever since the licensing regime was set up, operators or punters will not be holding their breath to see if ARJEL’s recommendation is heeded, although of course the new government led by President Macron might be more open-minded to reassessing the regulation.  

The rest of the quarterly figures were less inspiring than the sports betting numbers: horse racing was down and poker was almost flat despite the introduction of new variants and the opening up of European liquidity between regulated poker rooms.

But there was one bright spot – a significant rise in the number of female punters. The number of female sports bettors grew 40% to 79,000, nearly twice the growth rate of male gamblers, who increased in numbers by 21% to 829,000.
Granted, they are still lagging male punters by a long way, but the rate of growth does look promising.

Football, tennis and basketball made up most of the sports betting scene in France for the first quarter of this year, accounting for 89% of all wagers.

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