When the French igaming market liberalized in 2010, it looked as though operators and affiliates could start counting on a steady flow of Francs to add to their revenue streams.

Unfortunately a series of regulatory blunders and other mishaps have made betting on French igaming anything but a sure bet. Early-to-market operators not only found the French masses to be tepid bettors, they also found tax structures that were seriously detrimental to company profits.

Though those early days were hardly successful, the future of French igaming is by no means a lost cause for operators and affiliates. But in order to understand where Franco gambling is heading, you really need to understand where it’s been.

A Short History of French Gambling

The French gambling monopoly, Française des Jeux (FdJ), embraced online sports betting in 2002. The only problem was that French gamblers were already wagering on offshore sites.

Early estimates suggested that FdJ was only pulling in around 5% of the action, while the other 95% of the action flowed offshore.

In 2010, that news, along with pressure from European Union regulators, spurred the French government to open igaming markets to competition for the first time since monarchs ruled the land. (French feds did, however, maintain their monopoly on land-based betting shops.)

The Dawn of Regulation

Like other Central European governments, the French made life as difficult as possible for operators looking to compete in a regulated market.

For starters, they based their tax structure on the size of the individual wagers, not on gross revenues. This takes a big bite out of overall revenue and makes it tough for private businesses to compete.

The private sector was also hampered by the decision to restrict online gambling options to poker and sports betting. This took popular, and profitable, casino games like roulette out of the picture.

Fate also conspired against private enterprise when the French team turned in a disastrous performance in the 2010 World Cup. Soccer accounts for a full 54% f of the French sports betting market, followed by tennis and horse racing.

In all fairness to the French government, some sources also suggest that liberalized sports betting was introduced too late for operators to effectively launch marketing campaigns.

Operators were counting on the Cup to kick off the online sports betting era in France were sorely disappointed – despite the fact that 56% of all bets placed in the country were on the World Cup

That said, liberalization has been far from a failure in other areas, particularly when it comes to weaning players from their offshore lairs.

One area of the French sports betting market that’s been fairly consistent, is
By 2011 it was believed that only 400,000 of the roughly 2 million Frenchmen who bet on sports offshore were still gambling outside of French borders.

Sources also suggest that only around 100,000 of the country’s 600,000 online poker players were still going offshore in the month following liberalization.

Online Poker in France

Even though regulated sports betting has been available to French punters for a very long time, it’s still a relatively small segment of the market, especially when compared to online poker.

Throughout the trials and tribulations of the French igaming market, poker has been a consistent bright spot for operators and affiliates. in the first year the market was opened, French poker players dropped around €6 billion on cash games and tournament buy-ins.

Even better, French online poker player are, historically, pretty loose with their cash. It’s been reported that in 2011, the average weekly stake for French players was right around €1,000. Besides being well-heeled, the poker demographic in France skews towards younger players.

The Future of Franco iGaming

Despite its fits and starts – and a rough start to 2013 – the future of French igaming the French igaming market actually holds some promise for affiliates, especially pokers affiliates.

As we’ve pointed out, poker has traditionally been one of the more active areas of the French igaming market. Though the active player base in this segment saw a bit of dip towards the end of last year, it’s stabilized lately and is looking pretty good as a long-term bet.

Affiliates with an eye towards France should also be keeping an eye on the country’s rapidly growing smartphone penetration rate. Current estimates suggest that 60% of French mobile users are on smartphones and that number grew by 700,000 over the course of this year.

With mobile gambling and social casinos experiencing rapid growth across the planet, this is a sector that’s worth developing.

All told, the French market holds a lot of promise for affiliates. The igaming issues the market there is experiencing are hardly unique, and most observers agree that the country is moving towards true liberalization faster than some of its neighbors (Spain, we’re looking at you).

Promoting French iGaming

Unibet- Unibet has a huge footprint in Central and is definitely a brand that French players are going to recognize. They offer affiliate partners as much as 40% in revenue share (some conditions apply) and do not charge negative carryovers. If you’re looking to micro-market, Unibet’s Maria Poker brand is focused specifically on female players.

Europartners- CAP readers who sign up to promote Europartners are eligible for a whopping 60% revenue share for their first three months. Once the introduction period finishes, poker affiliates can earn between 25%-40% on revenue share plans.

CAP Network- The CAP Network delivers a ton of great affiliate programs and promotions from one easy-to-use dashboard. Not only do CAP Network users qualify for special promotions from participating affiliate partners, they also get their commission checks consolidated in one place, too. If ease-of-use and reliability are on your checklist, this is something you should definitely be looking at.


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