While French casinos have been demanding the legalisation of online casinos for several years, through their unions, Casinos de France and the Association of French Independent Casinos (ACIF), the deputy for the first constituency of Vendée, Philippe Latombe (MoDem), now wishes to make this pious wish come true.
To do this, it has tabled a bill aimed at authorising casino operators to offer online casino games, the marketing, commissioning and maintenance of which would be carried out under the responsibility of supply and maintenance companies. (SFM).
This necessity has been dictated by a change in consumption patterns, favored by the development of digital technology, but also the need to fight against illegal online casinos and to ensure the protection of players, according to the deputy. “Online casinos exist, but have no legal status in France, while our compatriots play there, these sites are operated abroad and therefore carry out their activity outside of any control,” explained Mr. Latombe.
“Thus taking into account the current evolution of the gambling sector and the fact that the French are indulging in online betting anyway, this bill makes it possible to establish a legal framework which secures the players, the game and ensures State control over the resources it can draw from it. It thus contributes to filling a legal void that encourages abuses. The State can thus keep control over this practice by allowing the rules of the physical game to apply to the virtual game, which will make it possible to control, to set limits of time, amounts. or to put in place bans on to play.”
The MP quotes the ANJ, which estimates between 1.4 and 2.2 million players using illicit online casinos. The Vendée deputy also points out that the local authorities, in which the operators of the casinos concerned are located, would thus benefit from additional tax revenues.
In his bill, the MoDem deputy suggests a five-year moratorium, which would preserve the sovereignty of French casinos, by allowing them to set up an innovative offer, before opening up to competition on January 1, 2030.
“There would be a five-year moratorium during which only casino operators who already hold a license can operate an online casino, allows, initially, to leave the hand to known market players, who are used to exercising their activity within a proven legal framework,” said Philippe Latombe. “This period represents sufficient time to allow for an assessment. This is only a first step, a form of in situ experimentation,” he continues.
On the side of the two employers’ unions of casinos, they remain cautious on this subject, which they know is slippery. “The president of the National Gaming Authority (ANJ) declared, during a hearing before the Senate on February 1, that an online casino will lead to a drop of around 35 per cent in turnover for land-based casinos,” said Luc Le Borgne, the president of the ACIF. A figure that he confirms with regard to the studies he has been conducting for several months on online gambling in the main European countries that have legalized it.
“The subject is complex,” Luc Le Borgne added. “It is necessary to rely on a precise inventory, in order to know what is being done in other countries, what resources they have and what results they are obtaining. It will also be necessary to take into consideration the result of the study that the ANJ is currently conducting with a panel of 30,000 consumers on internet games. Depending on these elements, it will be necessary to sit around a table and discuss, ”he insists.
The president of ACIF is not hostile to the five-year moratorium surrounding the proposal tabled at the Palais-Bourbon and offers operational exclusivity for this period to land operators with a license in the territory, noting that ‘the market offers a preponderant place to the first arrivals. It’s always more complicated for new entrants, however powerful they may be.’
Philippe Bon, General Delegate of Casinos de France, the other employers’ union, is more circumspect. “This period is too short”, he said. It also notes that many members of Casinos de France consider that the taxation associated with this project is not appropriate and makes this project unprofitable. “Significant reductions will be essential, because large communication budgets will have to be deployed to counter the illegal offer which is not taxed on French territory,” Luc Le Borgne added.
Jorge Lopes, President, of the Syndicate of Independent Casino Suppliers (SFIC), said. “This contact was initiated to help the profession, not to go against it. The idea was really not to leave the casino operators at the mercy of a web giant which has colossal means which we cannot cope with.”
The president of ACIF is not hostile to the five-year moratorium surrounding the proposal tabled at the Palais-Bourbon and offers operational exclusivity for this period to land operators with a license in the territory, noting that “the market offers a preponderant place to the first arrivals. It’s always more complicated for new entrants, however powerful they may be,” he said.
“The idea is to offer online casino games, accessible without obligation by casinos that want them, in order to have a product that is sincere, that would offer the same rate of return as a classic machine in a land-based casino,” he still abounds, insisting on the fact that the virtual slot machines would respond, like those found in the gaming rooms of land-based casinos, to the GLI-11 standard. “The only changes we are making are in response to requests from the Ministry of the Interior regarding money laundering,” said Mr Lopes.
Regarding the control of minors and players banned, the SFIC recommends prior registration with a casino. After presenting the usual supporting documents and obtaining authorisation to play, the player would then only have to connect to his account to play.
As for addiction, control will be based on the rules that will be imposed. “The ANJ has very restrictive projects for casinos if this materializes. We will have to adapt,” said Mr Lopes.
With regard to the discussions relating to this bill and its parliamentary course, Philippe Latombe, the Vendée deputy, remains cautious, even if he has checked a date in the legislative calendar. “A text of law, however good it may be, is dependent on the legislative calendar where it can find its place to be discussed. Above all, I tabled this bill to give visibility to the proposed system. This leaves time to promote it to my colleagues and the government. I have good hopes of passing it in the form of an amendment in favor of the PJL DSA DMA which will make it possible to regulate Web3 and should constitute an appropriate legislative vehicle.”