A lottery for the community
Following an initial attempt to introduce a lottery in the 16th century, in 1933 the French government created the National Lottery, inspired by the charity lottery for war veterans with facial injuries, set up following World War I to provide help for disfigured veterans. The first winner was Paul Bonhoure, a barber from Tarascon in the Bouches-du-Rhône region, who pocketed 5 million French francs at the first draw on 7 November 1933.
Profits from the National Lottery were paid out to former soldiers and to the victims of farming disasters, which were particularly devastating at that time as the economy was essentially based on rural activities.
From 1935 onwards, the National Lottery's distribution network further developed when lottery tickets were split into "tenths", making ticket prices more affordable and increasing the game's popularity. So much so that in 1948, the jackpot reached more than 10 million French francs!
Playing for pleasure
1958, the National Lottery celebrated its 25th birthday! The special 25th birthday draw offered a jackpot of 150 million French francs. The draw took place on Friday 7 November, at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris.
In the 60s, the lottery enjoyed a second wind with the creation of the weekly draw and other "special draws" to mark certain occasions, such as Friday 13th, Saint Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and the Easter and Christmas holidays.
By then, almost one adult out of two was a National Lottery customer thanks to a great sales network criss-crossing the country.
LOTO is created
The National Lottery's little brother, LOTO® appeared for the first time in the mid-1970s. The first draw took place at the Empire Theatre in Paris, on 19 May 1976. In the beginning it was somewhat disappointing: only 73,680 ticket slips were recorded, for a total of 50,600 French francs. Poorly advertised and with points of sale restricted to the Paris region, in its early days LOTO® was not a crowd-pleaser. But that was soon to change…
Ticket sales were rolled out throughout France and the amount of player stakes went up and up. By the time of its first birthday, in May 1977, it was selling a record-breaking 7 million tickets per week! Since then, LOTO® has been considered a social phenomenon.
In light of this growing success, in 1979 the French State created the SLNLN (Société de la Loterie Nationale et du Loto National), and held 51% of the company's equity. Remaining faithful to its origins, its gaming model was based on the redistribution of player stakes to serve the public interest.
Tac O Tac was launched in 1983. This was the first mixed-format lottery consisting of a draw and an instant-reveal scratch card add-on. It was an immediate success. This was followed in 1985 by Loto sportif multisports, the first betting odds game in France.
In 1989, SLNLN became France Loto. The French government's holding increased from 51% to 72%, the remainder being shared among issuers, employees and brokers. This was also the year that the first scratch card game was launched, "Cash 100,000 Francs".
Farewell National Lottery - hello scratch cards!
The 1990s marked the rise of the instant lottery. In 1991, France Loto became La Française des Jeux and French people were introduced to, among others, the game known as "Millionnaire", the first scratch card broadcast on television. Then, in 1992, Loto Flash appeared on the scene. The concept? The computer terminal allocates a combination of random numbers to the player. The TV draw also received a makeover: the female announcer disappeared and was replaced by a voice-over describing the draw against a simple backdrop, a black background with white smoke and the famous two-tone balls.
At the beginning of the 1990s, La Française des Jeux created its Corporate Foundation, which has spent 25 years working in sports sponsorship. In 2017, the Foundation charted a new course for itself: equal opportunities, through gaming, in education and inclusion.
Innovation hand-in-hand with digital and international development
The beginning of the 2000s was a digital turning point for La Française des Jeux, with the creation of fdjeux.com offering a range of exclusive games. The French took their first steps in the world of online gaming. The offering was extended in 2003 with LOTO® and scratch card games. The following year, La Française des Jeux created EuroMillions, in partnership with eight other European countries. In 2009, the FDJ® brand emerged and has since established itself as a permanent feature in the day-to-day life of French people.
An innovation strategy and a fresh societal challenge
2010 saw the opening to competition and regulation of the online betting and gaming sector, which spans sports betting, horse racing and poker games. After the launch of Cote & Match, the first odds-based betting game launched in 2003, sports betting innovated with ParionsSport and the ParionsWeb website. In 2015, FDJ® launched its FDJ2020 strategic plan aimed at supporting the company’s digitisation, from products to services via the network, heralding a transition into the digital era.
In 2018, FDJ extended its general interest redistribution model by supporting a new major national cause: the restoration of France’s endangered heritage, with the creation of the “Mission Patrimoine” games.
On 21 November 2019, as part of its privatisation, La Française des Jeux (FDJ), the largest player in the French gaming industry, announced the great success of its IPO on the regulated market of Euronext Paris.