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FDJ sees revenue and stakes climb in Q1 despite Covid-19 restrictions

| By Robert Fletcher
French gaming giant La Française des Jeux (FDJ) has reported a year-on-year rise in revenue and stakes during its first quarter, despite continuing restrictions on retail activity related to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Total revenue for the three months through to 31 March amounted to €537.6m (£466.7m/$644.3m), up 5.2% from €511.2m in the same period last year.

Gross gaming revenue was up by 5.1% year-on-year to €525.9m, while revenue from other activities jumped 10.7% from €10.6m to €11.8m.

FDJ said the rise in revenue was driven by an increase in stakes, with players spending a total of €4.6bn, up 11.8% from €4.11bn in Q1 of last year, despite the operator facing longer restrictions related to the pandemic than the same period in 2020.

France did not introduce Covid-19 measures on retail until mid-March 2020, though sports betting was limited from early March due to the cancellation of almost all sports events. 

This year, the operator said approximately 10% of its points-of-sale – mainly bars – were closed for the entire quarter, while customers were also restricted by a 7pm curfew and travel restrictions.

However, despite these limitations, player spending was up across all areas of the group, most notably in sports betting, where stakes hiked 46.1% to €1.1bn, helped by the return of the traditional sports calendar after disruption in the latter part of Q1 2020.

Lottery remained FDJ’s main source of income with stakes here rising 3.8% to €3.46bn, or 10.0% when excluding the Amigo game, which is offered in bars. FDJ said the closure of bars and other Covid-19 measures had a significant impact on Amigo, with stakes down 50%.

Draw-based game stakes were up 2.6% year-on-year to €1.3bn, while instant games stakes also increase 4.6% to €2.1bn

In terms of where customers were gambling, land-based operations remained the most popular source, with stakes here rising 5.7% to €4.0bn, despite the restrictions. Digital stakes jumped 64.7% to €1.4bn as more player turned to online during the quarter.

Players won a total of €3.20bn gambling with FDJ during the quarter, up 13.7% from €2.81bn in the same period last year. This left €1.40bn in gross gaming revenue, and after paying €915.7m in public levies, revenue stood at €537.6m.

“Despite the enduring impact of the health situation on the environment, the first quarter confirmed the good trends in our business, with stakes exceeding the levels recorded before the crisis,” FDJ chairwoman and chief executive Stéphane Pallez said.

“After reaching almost 10% of our global stakes in 2020, digital stakes continue to grow at a strong rate whereas our network activity is maintained. The events program for lottery and a busy sporting calendar, including Euro 2021 in football, should allow this momentum to continue in the months to come.”

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