The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has responded to growing concerns regarding French gambling’s exposure to black market activities, urging relevant authorities to advance discussions on regulating online casino gaming.
The Brussels-based trade and standards body expressed its concerns following the publication of a new study commissioned by l’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ), France’s Unified Gambling Authority.
The study’s headline findings revealed that approximately 3 million French players had visited illegal websites. The high engagement with unlicensed domains leads the study to estimate France’s black market for online gambling to be worth up to €1.5 billion annually in gross gaming revenue (GGR).
The figure is equivalent to nearly half of France’s regulated online gambling revenues and is primarily attributed to players choosing to play online casino, a segment that remains unregulated under French gambling’s existing laws.
The EGBA noted: “Although France is one of Europe’s significant gambling markets, it is one of just two EU countries which has a ban on online casino games, creating a black market with all its inherent risks.”
French authorities should be concerned about the black market’s engagement with vulnerable and high-risk players, which the study revealed generated 79% of unlicensed GGR.
In its current state, the French online gambling market is deemed unsustainable as 3 million French players visit these sites from a total gambling population of 9 million.
The EGBA urges French authorities to address the ban on online casino games and adopt a multi-licensing model similar to the one used for online sports betting. This approach is seen as more effective in reducing black market activities.
Maarten Haijer, Secretary General, EGBA: “The scale of France’s online black market is alarming, and we believe it is one of the EU’s largest online gambling black markets, alongside Germany and Italy. The country’s prohibition of online casino is clearly a big part of the problem. Given the popularity of online casino, and the need to protect consumers from the risks of the black market, it is imperative that the French authorities urgently reassess their current ban on online casino games. The ban is counterproductive and fails consumers.
By regulating online casino games through a multi-licensing model, France would better protect its consumers, regain more control over its online gambling market, and secure vital tax revenues. The best way to tackle a black market is to establish a competitive regulated market alternative. The time to act is now.”