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France – French gambling regulator ANJ announces plans to reduce gambling harm

By - 26 January 2024

Three years after its implementation and the installation of the new gambling regulation, French gaming authority Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) has presented its strategic plan for 2024 to 2026 to reduce excessive gambling and protect minors.

To achieve this ambitious objective, which is no longer an individual problem but a social one, the ANJ calls on all the economic and institutional actors concerned to mobilise alongside it.

The first round of regulation under the aegis of the National Gaming Authority ended in 2023 with the observation of a booming gambling market, with more than €13bn in turnover, i.e. more than 50 per cent growth since the market opened in 2011.

Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, President of the ANJ, said: “After three years of operation of the ANJ, we now consider that the regulation of gambling must take a turn that implies that the market gradually pivots towards a less intensive model. This proactive objective of reducing the number of excessive gamblers and strengthening the protection of minors will be monitored over three years, adjusted according to monitoring indicators and prevalence studies. It can only be achieved if all the players join forces alongside the regulator to move the lines: gaming operators, public authorities, institutions, associations, etc.

“Over time, gambling has become a consumer product, for all ages and backgrounds: more than one in two French people now gamble, which represents an amount spent by more than €55bn each year. Gambling is at the heart of our societies and this phenomenon can be seen in all European countries.”

While substantial progress has been made by gambling operators over the past three years in this area, problem gambling still occupies too large a place in the gambling market. In 2019, the Observatoire des Jeux estimated that 1.4 million gamblers were at risk, including nearly 400,000 with pathological status. In total, problem gambling generates more than 38 per cent of the sector’s turnover and 21 per cent for excessive gamblers alone. These figures, which are due to be updated soon, illustrate the reality of a social problem, for young people in particular, with collateral damage in the player’s immediate entourage: over-indebtedness, family problems, academic difficulties, etc.

It is in this context that the ANJ has conducted its reflections with all stakeholders to define the new orientations of regulation for the period 2024-2026. These place the protection of minors and the reduction of excessive gambling and the social damage it causes at the centre of the regulator’s action, like a common thread that inspires all its action. 

The ANJ’s new roadmap is based on three fundamental pillars. The first of these pillars, which reflects the public health challenges of regulation, aims at a drastic reduction in the share and number of excessive gamblers within the gambling market. This central orientation for the ANJ will require significant efforts for operators. It cannot be achieved without a coherent and balanced regulatory policy, which seeks to consolidate the French model of the gambling market.

At the same time, this means that the ANJ must continue its action to preserve the transparency and integrity of the sector, first and foremost the fight against illegal gambling (second pillar) and strengthen the economic dimension of regulation in order to better understand market balances and provide solutions to the changes it is facing today (third pillar).

Finally, the strategic plan is based on three pillars that form the conditions for the success of its ambition: to make scientific knowledge of the market and gaming practices the compass of regulation; embody, at national and European level, regulation based on dialogue and cooperation to drive the repositioning of the market; and finally, to position the ANJ as a laboratory for bold, effective and exemplary public action.

The period that is opening up is critical for the French gambling market: it can destabilize the French model as well as strengthen it. This strategic plan should make it possible to strengthen the French model of regulation as an acceptable compromise between openness and protection.

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