SBC News iCasino the main draw for France at ICE 2024

iCasino the main draw for France at ICE 2024

SBC News iCasino the main draw for France at ICE 2024
Jake Pollard

If Latin America was most often mentioned as the region of focus for both suppliers and operators during ICE London last week, when it came to France all the questions and industry chatter focused on whether online casino (or iCasino as the natives say) regulation was a real possibility in the near-to-medium term.

This was perfectly illustrated during the roundtable the French regulator Autorité Nationale des Jeux hosted during the ICE Vox conference.

Outlining how France’s regulatory strategy will focus on preventing problem gambling and beef up its policies to strengthen sporting integrity in view of the Paris 2024 Olympics this summer, all the questions from the audience centred on the different themes and issues that potential iCasino regulation would present to the industry, its suppliers and, of course, players.

Eric Sjoden, Senior Advisor International Affairs at ANJ, explained that the different online casino amendments presented to the French parliament over the past 12 months had all been rejected and that iCasino regulation was “unlikely in the near future”.

The vertical is “still prohibited because the 200 land-based casinos” operating in the country “are afraid of (online gaming) cannibalisation”, he said. The communes the casinos are based in are highly dependent on the revenues they generate for their budgets and the casino groups are also “worried about big international brands coming in and taking over the online market”.

SBC News iCasino the main draw for France at ICE 2024
Eric Sjoden: ANJ

Asked if online casino regulation would be more likely if it had political or government backing, as was the case for the NFT-fantasy betting sub-sector France legislated in 2023, Sjoden replied: “No, it would have to be discussed and the discussion would have to be about the whole sector. The aim of the regulation is to maintain a balance between all the different verticals and stakeholders.”

Maintaining an equilibrium between offline lottery, online horse racing pari mutuel, land-based casinos or fixed odds digital wagering is the stated aim of French gambling regulation.

Sjoden added that the “ANJ is realistic” and is fully aware that there is a considerable illegal online casino market targeting the country.

When it came to blocking unlicensed sites, he said ANJ was now able to implement  much faster administrative measures for ISP blocks and that it had “blocked more sites in the past 12 months than it had in the previous 10 years”.

ANJ is also working towards enabling payment blocks for unregulated online gambling, although that issue is a lot more complicated and would be a much lengthier process.

In any case, current illegal iCasinos “would not be the ones getting licensed” should the vertical ever get regulated, added Sjoden. The authority added that Google France had agreed to block adverts for illegal casinos targeting French players.

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