The French gambling regulator has said “substantial progress” must be made by the majority of operators when it comes to preventing excessive or pathological gambling.
The Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) called the current protection of minors, as well as the identification and support of excessive gamblers, as “two major public health issues” after it received operators' annual “responsible gambling action plans”.
France’s gambling regulator has provided operators with a list of specific measures it wants them to implement in 2022 to address these issues.
The regulator's announcement comes soon after the French Observatory of Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT) found that one in four middle school students (aged 11 to 14 years old) had gambled over the past year.
The “EnCLASS” study, carried out in the first quarter of 2021 with just under 2,000 pupils, also found that 9 percent of middle school students gamble every month and 3 percent gamble every week.
Operators in France are required to provide the ANJ with a strategy to prevent excessive gambling, promote player protection tools and show how they identify and support problem gamblers.
After evaluating the 2021 action plans, the ANJ said operators had successfully increased the visibility of underage gambling prevention messages and developed more robust systems to identify and support excessive and pathological gambling.
Additionally, operators achieved “concrete results” when it came to structuring policies to prevent excessive and underage gambling, as some operators created dedicated internal teams to address the issues and others provided staff training, according to the ANJ.
Despite the improvements made by operators in 2021, the ANJ now wants operators to “deepen their efforts” by implementing a set of actions.
Operators have been urged to restrict minors' access to operators' websites and social media accounts, generalise the availability of parental control software, strengthen player identity checks and limit any possible means to facilitate underage gambling.
When it comes to identifying and supporting problem gamblers, operators have been told to use the definition of gambling addiction (ICJE index, Canadian index of excessive gambling) recently adopted by the ANJ.
The regulator also wants operators to establish early systems to identify when players exhibit signs of problematic gambling or excessive play and to propose solutions to limit or even ban players, according to their risk profiles.
Operators will have to show the effective implementation of the objectives and an evaluation of the effectiveness of their underage gambling prevention systems in their 2022 action plan.
The ANJ will publish a practical guide before the summer covering the identification and support of excessive gamblers, including key indicators to identify “risky” behaviour and the support measures operators can take.
Separately, a bill aimed at “democratising sport” in France was amended by the Senate and handed to the National Assembly on January 20.
Under the proposal, the ANJ would be given the power to issue cease and desist letters to unlicensed sports-betting operators, which if not adhered to can lead to a penalty fine.
It also appears to give the regulator the same power to order any online interface, including a website, part of a website, or an application, to prevent access to unlicensed sports-betting sites.