As anticipated, Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche government has confirmed that it will privatise French state-owned gambling and lottery operator Francaise des Jeux (FDJ).
However, FDJ’s sale comes with several strings attached, as the French Assembly demands that En Marche moves to restructure France’s national gambling regulatory framework.
As a key initiative of Macron’s ‘France enterprise and innovation program’, En Marche will move to divest the government’s holdings in a number of state-owned assets, including airports, railway stations and postal services.
On Monday, the French Assembly granted En Marche the right to proceed with the sale of the government’s 72% stake in FDJ, in accordance with establishing new regulatory provisions for the French gambling sector.
The French Assembly has stipulated that En Marche may only sell FDJ, if the government creates an independent supervising body to ensure that FDJ’s new owners comply with French fundraising, civic and social responsibility duties/standards.
Furthermore, the Assembly details that France should create a new gambling regulatory authority, supervising all levels of French gaming/betting.
At present French gambling regulation is governed by three separate bodies, with ARJEL monitoring online gambling services, the finance ministry regulating betting activities alongside the French Agricultural Department supervision of horseracing laws.
In its update, the Assembly has pushed for the government to develop a unified framework, as a number of French industry stakeholders have suffered from ‘double guardianship’ operating French-licensed betting/gambling services.
The sale of FDJ had been mooted for some time, as a number of ministers’ view the lottery/betting operator as a disposable asset which should not be attached to the state.
Last April, French news sources disclosed that En Marche had hired BNP Paribas to review the strategic options of FDJ, should the government be allowed to divest its gambling asset.
French news sources report that the government targets a €3 billion sale for its stake in FDJ enterprise. The government may further choose to retain a holding in FDJ enterprise managed by French state fund APE (Agence des participations de l’État).