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FDJ smashes records thanks to World Cup glory

| By iGB Editorial Team
Future looks bright for French gambling giant, but CEO says privatisation won't come any time soon 

French gaming giant Française des Jeux (FDJ) will not be privatised until at least next year the company has confirmed as it announced record sports betting and digital takings boosted by France’s FIFA World Cup win.

As it released its H1 results, FDJ said it took €333m ($390m) in bets over the course of the World Cup, which was up 75% on the 2014 tournament, and well above the conservative pre-tournament estimate of €200m, as punters warmed to France’s triumph in Russia. FDJ's total was just less than half the €690m in total bets made in France during the tournament, according to new industry-wide figures released by Arjel.

The France-Croatia final itself generated €67m across the sector, according to Arjel, with FDJ’s €32m a record for bets on a single match.

FDJ said in a trading update: “These good results are explained by the extraordinary career of the Blues [national team], by the efforts of the company in terms of supply, accessibility and listing, as well as by the influx of French [punters] in the bar-tobacco-press following the games.”

FDJ said that in the six months to June 30 – so just half way through the World Cup – digital bets amounted to €1.2bn, up more than 54%. They made up 15% of total bets, which is still some way short of the company’s goal of reaching 20% by 2020.

In total the company brought in €7.9bn in the first six months of the year up 5.3% on last year. €1.6bn in sports betting takings was up by almost 25%.

By the time France come to defend their World Cup title in 2022, FDJ – which is part state-owned – could well be a private entity. Last June, a draft law was introduced which set out plans to sell off at least some of the government’s 72% share.

Speaking about the future of the company, CEO Stéphane Pallez told AFP that parliamentary debates lasting until at least the end of this year mean there will be no progress until 2019.

Pallez said that the proposed sale would offer an opportunity for the company to “remain one of the leaders in the sector. You need to be able to continue to grow, especially internationally.”

She added: “Having open capital can be an opportunity to involve partners. If the state decided to quote the company, it could also be an opportunity to have an offer to the general public, but that is only one of the options.”

Meanwhile, FDJ will be a more visible presence in French football next season after it announced partnerships with Lyon, Monaco and Nantes. It also agreed a deal with Marseille last month, with the four partnerships following a previous agreement with the Professional Football League (LFP).

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