SBC News JONUM approval sees French interests revived in iCasino future

JONUM approval sees French interests revived in iCasino future

SBC News JONUM approval sees French interests revived in iCasino future
Jake Pollard…

As France’s web 3-JONUM bill secures its official sign off, the subject of iCasino regulation remains front of stakeholders’ minds of an evolving French gambling marketplace. 

France’s digital safety bill was voted through by its parliament nearly two weeks ago and with the approval of the regulations surrounding the web 3 crypto-based gaming products called JONUM bringing to an end one phase of online gaming lobbying, stakeholders are preparing for the next one, with the focus once again on online casino regulation. 

Broadly speaking, the main stakeholders can be categorised as the Casinos de France trade group, for the land-based casino groups, AFJEL, for the online operators, and national lottery operator and Kindred Group suitor Française des Jeux, for itself. The first two groups have been lowkey in recent months, but fully intend to continue lobbying for the regulation of online casino, according to a number of sources SBC News’ media partner Gaming&Co has spoken with recently.  

This being France, devising regulations that enable the establishment of an open and competitive market will be the key challenge, especially as the influence of FDJ looms over much of the debate. Gaming&Co has reported on Casinos de France’s unsuccessful attempt to pass its JADE project as part of the JONUM bill

It is also worth noting that last Friday, the left wing LFI-NUPES group seized the country’s ‘Conseil Constitutionnel’, to adjudicate on whether the JONUM articles contained within the bill conform with the country’s principle of equality before the law. The council has 30 days to issue its decision.

The next legislative vehicle the stakeholders advocating for iCasino regulation could target is the end of a three-year experimentation carried out in the seven gaming clubs (cercles de jeux) that are dotted around Paris and which is set to conclude at the end of this year.

For the online operators, PMU became a member of AFJEL in March, which has boosted the association’s  lobbying firepower. As France’s horse racing tote monopoly, it has political backing among many local communities, the country counts 233 racecourses, while historically its positions vis-a-vis regulation would have tended to be closer to FDJ. 

Turbocharged FDJ 

FDJ’s privatisation in 2019 however has turbocharged its corporate expansion plans and made it a lot more aggressive with regard to M&A. One industry contact commented: “PMU seems has come to the conclusion that it will not benefit from standing on the sidelines and being a member of AFJEL will give it the best opportunity to get the most out of any new iGaming regulations.”

FDJ’s acquisition of the number 2 French online racing tote operator ZETurf is also a clear move onto PMU’s turf (excuse the pun), while its proposed €2.6bn takeover of Kindred Group would add a major digital sportsbook and international online casino operation to its already comprehensive product portfolio. 

Should that deal go through, many industry executives, including Francoi Riahi CEO of Betclic parent company FL Entertainment, have been quick to note the irony of France’s national lottery being able to operate a pan-European online casino just as the vertical is banned in its home country. 

Meanwhile, the news that it was previously in negotiations with the authorities over an exclusive iCasino licence means French industry stakeholders are keeping a close eye on proceedings. 

France is the last major western European country to not have regulated its iCasino market. The size of the illegal market is believed to be between €1.5bn and €2bn, although many executives say it is much larger than that.  

Recap of Digital Bill 

The main aims of France’s safety digital bill are to prevent online fraud, cyber-bullying or minors accessing pornographic sites. For the online gambling sector the key topics will revolve around the terms and conditions the French government alights upon as it seeks to regulate JONUMs, the crypto-based fantasy betting products offered by Sorare.

With most specialised lawyers, operators and even the regulator Autorité Nationale des Jeux considering those products to be real money games, industry observers have major doubts as to how the government will regulate the vertical. Key objections revolve around issues like ID verification, advertising and the potential payment of winnings in crypto-currency.

Another fear RMG companies have is that the initial experimentation phase of three years, with a review clause at the midway point, will see the appearance of technologies and trends that the authorities will be unable to keep pace with. 

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This article is published by SBCNews in partnership with Gaming&Co

 

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