The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has expressed its concern about the findings of a new study into the size of France’s black market for online gambling.
The study, commissioned by the national gambling authority l’Autorité Nationale des Jeux, estimates France’s black market for online gambling to be worth up to €1.5bn annually in gross gaming revenue (GGR), equivalent to nearly half France’s regulated online gambling revenue. This suggests that France has one of the EU’s largest online gambling black markets and, to address the problem, EGBA calls on the French authorities to end the country’s ban on online casino games.
Although France is one of Europe’s significant gambling markets, it is one of just two EU countries which has a ban on online casino games, creating a black market with all its inherent risks. The new study, conducted by PwC, found that websites offering online casino games are major contributors to the country’s online black market and, along with slots, account for up to 50% of France’s black market website traffic. While there is clearly demand in France for these games, these websites operate outside of French laws and many of them threaten the safety of French players, who have no legal recourse nor minimum protections, such as self-exclusion, when they use them.
The study found that around 3 million French players use black market websites at least once a month. Even more concerning, the study also established that high risk players account for 79% of the GGR generated by these players in the black market, meaning vulnerable players can be exposed to unsafe, unregulated websites which offer them no safer gambling protections.
To safeguard these players and foster a safe gambling environment for all, EGBA urges the French authorities to reassess the country’s existing ban on online casino games, and, consistent with the already established French regulation of online sports betting, take the necessary steps to ensure there is a safe and regulated environment also for the country’s online casino players. Such a regulatory framework should be based on a multi-licensing model, where several operators can obtain business-to-customer licenses, as this has long been proven to be the most effective method to reduce black markets in online gambling.
Maarten Haijer, Secretary General, EGBA, said: “The scale of France’s online black market is alarming, and we believe it is one of the EU’s largest online gambling black markets, alongside Germany and Italy. The country’s prohibition of online casino is clearly a big part of the problem. Given the popularity of online casino, and the need to protect consumers from the risks of the black market, it is imperative that the French authorities urgently reassess their current ban on online casino games. The ban is counterproductive and fails consumers. By regulating online casino games through a multi-licensing model, France would better protect its consumers, regain more control over its online gambling market, and secure vital tax revenues. The best way to tackle a black market is to establish a competitive regulated market alternative. The time to act is now.”