European Trade Group Urges France To Legalise Online Casino

December 6, 2023
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​​​​​​​The European Gaming and Betting Association is calling for the French government to legalise online casino, following the French regulator’s survey which suggests that the illegal online gambling market might be half the size of the legal one.
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The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) is calling for the French government to legalise online casino, following the French regulator’s survey which suggests that the illegal online gambling market might be half the size of the legal one.

France’s National Gaming Authority (ANJ) said illegal websites generate €748m to €1.5bn in gross gaming revenue annually, or about 5 percent to 11 percent of the entire legal gambling market.

The larger estimate is about half of the €2.96bn French online gambling market for 2022, including racing bets.

Further, about half the illegal market is online casino, which is not allowed in France. In Europe, only Cyprus also completely bans online casinos, the EGBA said.

“While there is clearly demand in France for these games, these websites operate outside of French laws and many of them threaten the safety of French players, who have no legal recourse nor minimum protections, such as self-exclusion, when they use them,” the EGBA said.

The regulator’s survey suggests that France has one of the biggest black gambling markets in Europe, alongside Germany and Italy, the European trade group said.

The survey, compiled by PwC, found 510 illegal websites targeting French players, dwarfing the 18 operators licensed by the regulator.

About 79 percent of the revenue was generated by players indulging in risky gambling and half the illegal websites were registered in Curaçao, the ANJ wrote.

Players were attracted to the illegal websites by unlimited stakes, the lack of ID verification and belief that jackpots would be higher, the regulator said.

Française des Jeux (FDJ) has been in talks with the French government about giving the lottery operator a monopoly over online casino, said journalist Jake Pollard in his Gaming & Co Substack columns. He cited industry sources.

FDJ did not respond to a request for comment in time for deadline.

But an exclusive relationship for FDJ is opposed by the French Online Gaming Association (AFJEL), which supports an open licensing system, and Casinos de France, the land-based casinos group, which favours tying online casinos to physical casinos, according to Pollard.

Illegal websites attracted about 3m players in 2023, up from 500,000 in 2016, according to a Toluna-Harris Interactive survey released last month by AFJEL.

Since March 2022, the French regulator has had the power to administratively block websites, and it said it has done so 300 times to 1,230 websites.

The ANJ said it is planning to refer officials from the overseas offending websites to French prosecution and to warn suppliers of games and payment providers.

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