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France – Record year in France sees ANJ propose raft of new measures

By - 27 July 2023

The gambling market in France recorded its best ever turnover in 2022, with gross gaming revenue of €12.9bn, up 20 per cent compared to 2021, according to French gambling regulator l’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ).

Land-based casinos and gaming venues produced revenues of €2.59bn with casino revenue was up by 130 per cent to €2.48bn and slot hall revenue increasing by189 per cent to €107m. Online gambling brought in €2.17bn, sports betting generated €1.38bn, online poker accounted for €442m whilst online horse racing raked in €346m.

The monopoly operators Française des Jeux (FDJ) and Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU) were responsible for €8.20bn of the total.

The ANJ said that with one in two French people now taking part in gambling, it has become in a few years a trivialized activity that concerns all ages and all categories. Thanks to digital solicitation techniques, the game is available in your pocket and almost at any time. 

The ANJ said: “These developments are all the more worrying as the negative externalities inherent in the gambling market in terms of addiction also seem to be growing. The Games Observatory estimated in 2020 the number of excessive players at 400,000. The file of voluntary bans on games managed by the ANJ records a continuous increase in the number of applications for registration (1300 applications per month on average), especially from young people and now totals more than 53,000 people.”

Beyond the clinical and individual dimension of addiction, it is now more like a social problem, which causes collateral damage in the player’s immediate environment: over-indebtedness, family problems, school difficulties, etc.

As a result, three years after the implementation of a regulation that already strengthened the obligations of gambling operators, the ANJ now considers that it is necessary to reduce in absolute terms the population of excessive gamblers, by acting in a diversified and vigorous way on supply and demand and this, as early as possible.

To do this, the current regulatory system must be supplemented. This is why the ANJ has proposed to the Government to have strengthened powers. It wants to ban gambling advertising during the broadcast of matches five minutes before kick-off and up to five minutes after the final whistle.

It wants to control and supervise the volumes and advertising methods chosen by gaming operators, remove game offers when they present a clear and excessive risk. It also wants the government to give the ANJ the ability to set a loss ceiling for the most fragile categories of players (18-25 years old) and set up an obligation to permanently display a “activity counter” of the player (normative feedback and activity indicators such as net losses).

Elsewhere it wants to strengthen the effectiveness of the voluntary gambling ban system by reducing the duration of the ban to one year, tacitly renewable, without the possibility of going back on this prohibition period; Extend to all gambling operators the obligation to pay 0.002% of their annual bets for the financing of studies on gambling.

New types of games, Web3 in particular, that attract young or speculative audiences have emerged recently. Some of these games are similar to gambling and give rise to risks largely comparable to those posed by gambling (addiction, money laundering, prevention of underage gambling, etc.).

In this context, the Government wished to define a regulatory framework specific to Web3 games. The bill “securing and regulating the digital space” that was examined in the Senate at the beginning of July includes an article that sets the conditions for the operation of games using monetizable digital objects (“JONUM”). At this stage, a definition has been adopted but the necessary protections to be put in place have not yet been defined. The upcoming review in the National Assembly this autumn will be decisive in this regard.

At this stage of the parliamentary discussion and beyond the opinion it has given to the government, the ANJ wishes to emphasize the following points during the experimental period and given the permanent evolution that characterizes this type of offer, it is imperative that the JONUM regulator has room for manoeuvre in the implementation of the new legal framework. It would therefore be very appropriate for it to be able to enact rules of soft law and to be endowed with a power of formal notice in order to promote compliance by JONUM publishers with the objectives set by the legislator, by seeking pragmatic solutions, if necessary agreed with JONUM publishers.

The protection system must be solid and adapted to the risks presented by this new gaming offer (prohibition to minors, prior declaration of the game to the ANJ, restriction of the content of commercial communications and power to withdraw non-compliant advertising, implementation of player protection mechanisms, control of anti-money laundering obligations);

Finally, the introduction of this new legal regime must not give rise to strategies to circumvent the legal and fiscal constraints applicable to gambling and lead to a distortion of competition to the detriment of legal gambling operators.

To combat illegal supply more effectively and to feed the reflection on the possible evolution of the existing framework, the ANJ commissioned a very comprehensive quantitative and qualitative study on the state of illegal supply and consumption habits. This study, which will be published in September, will provide an estimate of the size of the market and will provide a better understanding of both illegal offers and player practices. It is on this basis that the ANJ will present an assessment of its activity of administrative blocking of illegal sites effective for a year as well as the lessons to be drawn in terms of regulatory options.

ANJ President Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin said: “The extension of the gambling market to new gambling offers is a critical period for the regulatory model put in place three years ago. This can lead to destabilizing it or, on the contrary, to strengthening it. What must guide the reflections is the absolute need to reduce the number of excessive gamblers, which today constitutes a social problem that goes beyond the individual dimension of addiction.”

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