France’s gambling regulator Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) has placed reducing excessive gambling and the protection of minors at the heart of its 2024-26 strategic plan and has called on all economic and institutional stakeholders to work alongside it to reach those targets.
ANJ’s plan marks the end of its first cycle of regulation since it succeeded ARJEL as industry regulator in 2020 and arrives at a key juncture for the French gambling sector.
Industry revenues have increased by over 50% to more than €13bn since 2010 when the market opened to regulation and in 2024 “gambling has become a mainstream consumer product for people of all ages and from all walks of life”, said ANJ.
French gambling in the spotlight….
On the commercial side, France’s largest gambling group Française des Jeux (FDJ) this week tabled a €2.6bn offer for the European online operator Kindred Group, which the Swedish group has accepted. In terms of regulatory developments, in the past year the country’s land-based casinos and online operators have called for the regulation of online casino and the introduction of a framework to enable this.
Those calls were rejected by the government, which instead passed a set of web3 regulations aimed at NFT fantasy operators such as Sorare.
In its report, ANJ stressed that gambling was “not a product like any other” and a restrictive regulatory policy, supply and consumption of gambling was justified as “problem gambling still plays too large a role in the gambling market”, despite “significant progress in this area over the past three years”.
In 2019, France’s Gambling Observatory estimated that the number of at-risk gamblers was 1.4 million, with almost 400,000 at pathological level. ANJ added that problem gambling accounts for more than 38% of the sector’s turnover and excessive gambling generates 21% of its revenues. The figures are due to be updated this year, but “illustrate the reality of a social problem, particularly for young people”, said the regulator.
Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, President of ANJ, commented: “After three years in office, we now believe that the regulation of gambling must take a turn that involves the market gradually moving towards a less intensive model.”
Three is the magic number…
Following on from this, the regulator has based its 2024-26 strategy around three “fundamental pillars”. The first will be to “drastically reduce the proportion and number of excessive gamblers in the gambling market”.
A key objective that will require major efforts from operators, “it cannot be achieved without a coherent and balanced regulatory policy aimed at consolidating the French gambling market model”, said ANJ.
The transparency and integrity of the sector will be paramount and the fight against illegal gambling will be the second foundation on which ANJ will base its operations. The third pillar will be to strengthen “the economic dimension of regulation in order to gain a better understanding of market balances and provide solutions to the changes it is facing today”.
Added Falque-Pierrotin: “This voluntary target to reduce the number of excessive gamblers and to strengthen the protection of minors will be monitored over a period of three years. It can only be achieved if all the players join forces alongside the regulator to move the goalposts: gambling operators, public authorities, institutions, associations.”
ANJ added that its focus is “to make scientific knowledge of the market and gambling practices the compass of regulation” and “embody, at national and European level, regulation based on dialogue and cooperation” and position the authority “as a laboratory for bold, effective and exemplary public action”.