French football fans wagered almost €600m online on the 2022 Fifa World Cup, as operators smashed handle and revenue records.

According to figures released by the national gaming authority, l’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ), some €597m was put down by French bettors, who saw their team lose to Argentina in the final. The handle figure was up 56% on the 2018 Fifa World Cup – which France won – and up 37% on Euro 2020, although the latter featured fewer games.

The ANJ said that while results recorded in FDJ sales outlets have yet to be published, handle for online and retail could exceed €900m.

Some 54 million bets were placed, which was more than double the number in 2018, while the €51m placed on the final between France and Argentina created a new record for a single game and was well up on the €38m wagered on the France-Croatia final four years previously. Some 2.6 million player accounts placed a bet during the competition, representing 2.2 million unique players.

The tournament generated gross gaming revenue of €70m, which was well up on 2018, but ANJ said it was evidence of a slowing down of growth of online sports betting.

Across 2022, online betting GGR increased by just 2.5% year-on-year, compared to 44% in 2021 and 7% in 2020. The authority said the rapid growth in the previous two years was due to behavioural changes linked to the Covid pandemic.

New account numbers

ANJ also said 177,000 new gamblers created an account during the competition, which was less than the 232,000 accounts opened in 2018. It noted that twice as many women aged 18-24 signed up than during a normal period of activity outside a major sporting event.

While players bet more than in 2018, the amount of unit bets was €11, which was slightly lower than the previous tournament. By the end of Qatar 2022, 70% of accounts were negative, 23% were positive and 6% were balanced. Only 1% won more than 10 times their stake.

Regulated advertising

The ANJ noted less aggressive advertising during the World Cup after it persuaded agencies, audiovisual professionals and gambling operators to sign a commitment charter to moderate pressure and promote responsible commercial communications.

The ANJ launched an action plan ahead of the tournament to “de-intensify” the advertising pressure on all communication media and to reinforce the protection of minors and at-risk audiences, particularly on digital platforms.

Several prevention campaigns were conducted by public institutions before and during the major sporting event. These three campaigns, launched by Santé Publique France, the Seine-Saint-Denis General Council and the ANJ, raised awareness among the general public of the risks of problem gambling and excessive gambling, using different approaches.

“As expected, the Football World Cup was a highlight in the 2022 sports betting calendar, with online stakes breaking records,” read a statement from ANJ. “This economic result confirms the real craze for sports betting, which is, for many gamblers, an inseparable practice from football.

“As far as advertising is concerned, the content has become more normalised, and the commitments made by the operators to reduce advertising pressure have generally been respected. Nevertheless, the massive recourse to programme sponsorship and influence are points of vigilance for the regulator and answers will have to be provided in the near future.”

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