More than 27 million French people have played a La Française des jeux (FDJ) game at least once in 2023. From Loto to scratch cards in tobacco shops or press outlets, including betting on applications mobile… They spent an average of 5 euros per week. “We have players in all social categories. Senior executives are, for example, very fond of the EuroMillions draws,” explained Stéphane Pallez, CEO of the FDJ on the set of “Esprit d’entreprise”, the economic program on the Le Figaro TV channel. “We make 200 millionaires every year,” says the director of the almost century-old company, heir to the National Lottery. The FDJ supports the winners who are lucky enough to win more than 500,000 euros, in particular by offering psychological training to help them talk about it to those around them.

In 2023, the group achieved a record profit of 425 million. When the FDJ is doing very well, could that mean that the French are doing badly? “People don’t play more when the economy is bad,” retorts Stéphane Pallez. When we look at the growth of the FDJ over the last twenty-five years, it has not been correlated with economic cycles or purchasing power. There is no link with inflation, one way or the other.” Risk assessment systems, upstream game testing and post-launch studies… The FDJ deploys means to avoid addictions, which, according to the company, concern “5% of players”. “Recently, for example, we modified our Amigo game, reducing stakes by 25% to reduce risks,” explains the manager.

Four years after its privatization, 400,000 French people are still shareholders in the FDJ. “We are among the French companies with the most individual shareholders,” says Stéphane Pallez. The group continues to grow through acquisitions, with the aim of becoming a European champion.

After getting its hands on the Irish lottery operator and the horse racing betting specialist ZEturf, the FDJ launched a takeover bid in January for its Swedish competitor Kindred, parent company of Unibet, for a company value of 2, 6 billion. “We hope to own this company before the end of 2024,” says Stéphane Pallez. Enough to open the door, in France, to the authorization of online casinos offered by Unibet? It’s a decision that belongs to Parliament and the government, not to the operators,” replies the CEO. In good shape, the FDJ is continuing its diversification at the same time by offering the possibility to French people to pay their taxes, their rent or their small everyday bills at municipal services in half of its 29,000 points of sale. “Being a local player is part of our DNA,” believes the manager. Via the Nirio brand, tomorrow we will be able to pay our motorway tolls in tobacco shops.”

These next few months promise to be very rich for the FDJ, which is one of the main financial partners of the Paris Olympic Organizing Committee (Cojo). “We have also developed a team of 52 Olympic and Paralympic athletes, which we have been preparing since 2019 so that they have the best chance of obtaining medals,” concludes Stéphane Pallez. The opportunity for the company to offer scratch games and Loto “special Olympic draws”…