French online gambling operators were something of an anomaly during the recent COVID-19 lockdown. In fact, they might have even transcended into the category of unicorn. They were, in fact, some of the only businesses on the planet that actually saw revenue gains as their countrymen hunkered down in quarantine.

According to a report on CalvinAyre.com, French online gambling operators collected €435 million ($493 million USD) in revenue during the first quarter of 2020. That’s an uptick of more than 20 percent over the same period in 2019. (Remember, France went into full lockdown on March 17.)

Surprisingly, sports betting revenue for this period was actually up 18 percent over the previous year. This is all the more impressive considering that plenty of major sports leagues had shut down completely in the beginning of March. That said, March 2020′s sports betting turnover was down 40 percent over the previous year. While online gambling operators saw revenue from sports betting start sliding as the world shut down, players quickly shifted their habits to other forms of online gambling. One particular safe harbor was online poker.

Online poker revenue was up an astonishing 44 percent during this particular reporting period, clocking in at a solid €98 million ($111 million USD). The number of active weekly players spiked up 37 percent to 374,000 players. Bonuses were down five percent but that’s likely because of pushback from the French government, which was concerned that newly christened online poker players would be getting in over their heads.

While it’s tough to tell how long the French online gambling surge will last, it’s expected that Q2 will show similar gains.


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