French Regulator Demands 'Good Data' Before Any Online Casino Discussion

July 18, 2023
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There is a “critical need” for “good data” in France as lawmakers explore the prospects of opening online casinos, according to a representative from the Autorite Nationale des Jeux (ANJ).

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There is a “critical need” for “good data” in France as lawmakers explore the prospects of opening online casinos, according to a representative from the Autorite Nationale des Jeux (ANJ).

Eric Sjöden, senior advisor of international affairs for the ANJ, which regulates gambling in France, said there is a “need” for more prevalence studies in France, during a panel at iGB Live in Amsterdam last week.

The last prevalence study by the French Observatory for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT) was in 2019, leaving the ANJ to look for other data to try and understand changes to problem gambling behaviour, such as self-exclusion figures.

Responding to a question from the audience about the prospect of online casinos in France, where they are currently banned, Sjöden said: “For us, there is a problem gambling issue regarding opening online casinos in France, but it is a debate. We don't have an opinion on this now. Come back to us this fall, we might have a more precise opinion on this.”

On May 23, a French deputy in the National Assembly put forward a proposal to regulate online casinos. The proposal comes in the form of a draft law introduced by Philippe Latombe of the Renaissance governing party.

Before the draft law could be passed, it must first be discussed in both the National Assembly and the Senate, which may result in amendments. The ANJ would take part in these debates, but there is no public schedule for the next stages of the bill at the time of writing.

Figures within the gambling industry say the bill is probably designed to start a debate around legalising online casinos in France, rather than having much hope of passing by itself.

“It is clear that French players massively defy the law of May 2010 and go to offshore online casino sites, which do not protect them in any way, quite the contrary since there would be today, according to the ANJ, between 1.4 and 2.2 million users of illegal online casinos in France,” the legal proposal states.

The ANJ has commissioned PwC to assess the illegal market size in France; however, the report is “not quite finished”, Sjöden said, but it is “based on a very huge panel. It should be published by the end of summer on our website.”

A blacklist of illegal websites has been updated monthly on the ANJ’s website since March 2022, after the regulator was granted new powers to order internet service providers to block access to illegal gambling websites and websites that advertise illegal gambling.

“Website blocking used to take almost four to six months. We have blocked 532 URLs. In one year we did more than the ten years before. We wanted to develop a dialogue with intermediaries like internet providers and social media companies. We don't have difficulties speaking with them, we have a hotline. When we ask them to block, the vast majority usually do it,” Sjöden said.

However, the draft law to legalise online casinos argues that attempts to block access to offshore sites are “reaching their limits, even if the authorities try to identify and block illegal sites using court orders”.

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