France’s largest casino groups have written to the new Prime Minister Gabriel Attal excoriating Française des Jeux (FDJ) for its aggressive expansionary policies and the “monopolistic advantages” that enable the former state-owned company to operate across all verticals and channels in the country.
The letter, seen by the newspaper Les Echos, was signed by the CEOs of the Barrière, Partouche, Tranchant and JOA casino groups and denounced the “major distortions of competition”.
The casino groups state that FDJ benefits from, such advantages as “access (to FDJ premises) without ID, the ease with which new games can be offered, the absence of controls at points of sale, unlike casinos, and the use of the same FDJ customer account for games (offered under its) monopoly and (those operated in a) competitive context”.
On that last point, FDJ told Les Echos that it will be splitting its land-based and online databases in the near future, as horse racing monopoly PMU was forced to do nearly 10 years ago. It also emphasised “the priority given to preventing excessive gambling and gambling by minors, both in the physical distribution network and online”.
In recent months FDJ has acquired the Irish lottery group Premier Lotteries Ireland and the online operator ZETurf, that transaction made it one of the top four bookmakers in France. Previous acquisitions also include the B2B betting data provider Sporting Group and payments firm Aleda.
The letter is also part of the broader and highly sensitive topic of online casino regulation. Les Echos referred to an article written by SBC’s French media partner Gaming and Co that revealed that FDJ was in discussions with the government to potentially be granted an exclusive licence to operate iCasino products in France.
The claims were dismissed by FDJ, which said they were “unfounded”, and Les Echos noted that the casinos’ move could also be seen within the context of a study on the reform of gaming clubs (cercles de jeux) in Paris set to be published shortly.