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France – ARJEL express concern over gambling addiction risk during lockdown

By - 22 April 2020

French Online Gaming Regulatory Authority ARJEL has expressed its concern with the risk of gambling addiction as the global supply of sports and horse betting remains extremely limited.

ARJEL has recorded that players have turned to poker in the absence of sports and are concerned players may be tempted to gamble by illegal offers which have continued to offer certain bets, particularly casino style games.

Echoing the initiatives of operators in the area of responsible gaming, the ARJEL is particularly attentive to the risks of excessive gambling and is giving advice to players to keep control of their gambling practice so that it remains a recreational leisure.

For several weeks, ARJEL has observed that poker has attracted more players, especially new players, and subsequently gross product of these games has increased significantly.

The turnover of poker has multiplied two and a half times according to Charles Coppolani, ARJEL’s president. This has led the regulator to “call operators to be vigilant” and to warn them. “Operators should not multiply incentives to play with bonuses,” Charles warned. “In addition, they must be particularly vigilant with players whose behaviour could reveal a loss of control and approach them to provide them with prevention advice.

“Already, the licensed operators of online poker offer poker players the means to stay in a recreational game” continued the ARJEL president, recalling the measures available to players in order to avoid falling into addiction, like setting limits in terms of deposit and wagering and setting a limit on playing time with certain online poker operators. This faculty will soon be extended to all poker operators; self-excluding for a limited time when players feel they are losing control of their game.

Finally, the regulator noted that “the feeling of boredom caused by the confinement and suspension of the majority of sports competitions could encourage some players to turn to the illegal offer. “No site offering casino games and slot machines is only legal in France.

“Many players who visit these illegal sites never get paid their winnings and are not protected if they lose control of their game. It is also possible that some of the sports competitions offered in betting are actually fake competitions.

“The greatest caution is advised with online slots which are among the most addictive games,” concluded ARJEL.

The regulator has only very limited powers in its fight against illegal sites, generally based abroad. And when these URLs are blocked by internet service providers, these sites reappear very quickly under a new address, particularly with VPNs enabling access to banned illegal operators.

In addition, players are not likely to be criminally prosecuted, with the only sanction being the inability to recover possible earnings.

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