Paris (AFP)

Lottery, horse racing and sports betting or even poker: fewer French people have played gambling in 2019 compared to five years ago, but have more intensive practices, "developments that may seem worrying" according to a vast study released Tuesday.

Playing is one of the favorite leisure activities of the French, who devote around 10% of their leisure budget to gambling and gambling, representing an expenditure of around 200 euros per year per major inhabitant, up 12.5%. over the past five years. For a net expenditure of 10.4 billion euros (difference between the amount of bets and that of winnings paid back) in 2017, the last year available.

Last year, however, they played a little less than in 2014: 47.2% of French people did it at least once during the past year, against 56.2% five years ago, according to the first survey of its kind in five years, conducted by Santé publique France, the French Observatory for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT) and the Games Observatory (ODJ). 10,352 French people aged 18 to 75, including 4,544 players, were interviewed from January to June 2019.

On the other hand, the average profile of players, mostly casual (44% playing less than once a month), has changed little: they are still more likely to be men between 25 and 54 years old, professionally active, belonging to the intermediate professions, d '' a level of education slightly lower than that of non-players, but with a higher level of income.

The drop in the share of players, which returns to its 2010 level, "is essentially" due to the drop in the number of players from the FDJ (Française des jeux, Editor's note), since 80/90% of players play exclusively to lottery games "comments for AFP Jean-Michel Costes (ODJ), one of the authors.

The only sector that has not experienced a decline is that of sports betting, which has recorded a sharp increase (about 60%) and is now played by 11% of players.

The volume of sports betting has been "multiplied by 2.8 in five years with even more marked growth for internet betting (multiplied by 4.6)", according to the study, while the opening of the online gaming dates back to 2010.

- Doubling of the number of excessive players -

Among the different types of games, sports betting, whose offer and advertising exposure have increased significantly in recent years, represents the most significant risk: it is played by only a little more than one player in ten but "a fifth to a quarter of the problem gambling can be attributed to them".

The problematic game includes players at moderate risk or "in difficulty but who have not yet lost control, and those excessive addicted", explains Jean-Michel Costes.

These two categories, professionally less active and belonging to lower socio-educational backgrounds than the other players, generate 38.3% of the sector's turnover, but represent only 6% of the players. That is still 1,340,000 people.

Alarmingly, the proportion of excessive gamers has doubled in five years, from 0.8 to 1.6% of gamers (340,000 people).

"In terms of public health, we are very far from other addictions such as alcohol or tobacco, which affect many more people. But there is a significant increase in the number of people in difficulty" explains Jean-Michel Costes, for who this development and the increase in expenditure "may seem worrying", even though they were measured before the privatization of the FDJ, in November 2019.

One of the consequences of this privatization was the creation of a "games policeman", whereas until then, only online games were under the control of an independent authority (Arjel): the Authority National Games (ANJ), launched on June 23 and one of whose missions is, precisely, to prevent excessive gambling and fight against addiction.

© 2020 AFP