France Urges Gambling Companies To Rein In Sports Marketing

June 2, 2023
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France’s National Gaming Authority (ANJ) is urging licensees to stop offering links or bonus offers on sports team websites, as part of a warning that sports sponsorships could “trivialise” gambling and make it appealing to minors and problem gamblers.

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France’s National Gaming Authority (ANJ) is urging licensees to stop offering links or bonus offers on sports team websites, as part of a warning that sports sponsorships could “trivialise” gambling and make it appealing to minors and problem gamblers.

The ANJ is also asking licensees to end gambling sponsorships on team kits sold to under-18s and is urging sports organisations not to make deals with companies unlicensed in France.

Gambling sports sponsorships are expected to grow by 20 percent this year over last, to €40.7m, the regulator said.

There were an additional €15m in French sports sponsorships by unlicensed companies last year, including illegal online casino operators, targeting bettors in Africa and Asia, the ANJ said.

All the gambling sponsorships, however, represent only about 2 percent of €2.5bn in sponsorships by all private companies, the regulator wrote.

The regulator said it will, if necessary, seek legislation or regulations to enforce the guidelines and recommendations, which were published on Thursday (June 1).

The guidelines come as a French legislator has proposed a bill that would legalise online casinos for the first time, initially linked to land-based casinos only.

The regulator said it will assess its sports sponsorship guidelines and recommendations in the first quarter of 2024.

The ANJ noted that athletes are now frequently used to promote gambling, that commercial messages in sporting venues often do not include mandatory warnings and noted some operators are partnering with amateur clubs.

Operators have been asked not to use athletes that appeal to minors in promotions, or to promote gambling using children’s toys or figurines.

Separately, ANJ president Isabelle Falque Pierrotin said the agency supported a proposed digital bill that would set a framework for regulating cryptocurrency, blockchain use and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and she asked for new tools to help regulate such games and prevent money laundering.

“We are seeing the emergence of new types of games, Web 3 in particular, which attract young or speculative audiences,” she told a National Assembly committee, according to an ANJ summary of her remarks.

“Some of these games are similar to games of chance and involve risks that are broadly similar to those posed by gambling (addiction, money laundering, prevention of gambling by minors, etc.).”

Protections for minors and the vulnerable should be guaranteed, any new constraints should not disrupt competition among licensed gambling operators and regulation should be “open-ended”, in that regulation of such games is in its infancy in Europe, she said.

“A better-equipped regulator will ensure that innovation in the sector can develop while protecting players,” she said.

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