Having been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, French casinos are now turning to online gaming to boost profits Internet. Since the opening of a regulated and controlled online market in June 2010, limited to sports betting, horse racing and poker, the situation has remained frozen. But the coronavirus pandemic, as in other economic sectors, has reshuffled the cards for players in gambling faced with a drop in gross gaming revenue for fiscal year 2020/2021 of 41 per cent.
The employers’ union Casinos de France, which brings together 80 per cent of gambling establishments, is now considering an online offer called Jade for ‘experimental remote play.’ This would first go through a test period of three to five years, similar to the pilot currently being completed by Parisian gaming clubs. The casino games offered on the Internet would be reserved for physical establishments, such as in Belgium or Switzerland, where operators with a dual activity (offline and online) have weathered the pandemic without too much problem.
Despite being banned in France, online casino sites continue to develop. It is difficult to quantify exactly the impact of this sector on the French market, its illegality making it by definition opaque. The lowest estimates of its gross gaming revenue are €100m to €200m per year. The highest estimate is €1.3bn. The Jade business model offered by Casinos de France would be unprecedented and would make it possible to perpetuate the existence of French establishments, regardless of their size.
After registering with a hard-core casino, in order to verify their identity and that they do not appear on the file of prohibited games, players would have access to the site of the latter to a number of slot machine positions. equivalent to that of the physical establishment.
For example, a casino with 75 slot machines could simultaneously offer 75 accesses to virtual slot machines. For traditional games, the mirror site would offer the same game tables. If a casino wanted to increase its number of slot machines from, for example, 75 to 100, real and virtual, it should also, for this example, add a traditional table game in the physical casino and online. At the end of the 2019 to 2020 financial year, there were 22,700 slot machines installed in French casinos, with the maximum number for one being 500 MAS.
While the legalization of internet gambling is inevitable, the union sees Jade as channeling some of the illegal activity with a reasonable proposition. In addition, by consolidating the existence of permanent establishments, it would make it possible to develop local employment and taxation. However, this experiment requires a modification of the legislation. It will therefore be necessary to wait until after June 2022, the election of the next National Assembly, for the deputies to take it up.