French Gambling Sector Shows Improvement in Safeguards Against Excessive and Underage Gambling

Following proactive legislation introduced in 2019, gaming operators throughout France are mandated to annually detail their strategies to prevent excessive and underage gambling to the country’s gaming regulator, the Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ). These plans are meticulously scrutinized by the ANJ to ensure adherence to regulatory requirements and to foster ongoing communication regarding player protections within the industry.

Recent observations by the ANJ reveal that the gambling market within France has taken significant strides towards the mitigation of excessive gambling. Noteworthy initiatives include the deployment of awareness campaigns, player-targeted messages, and the implementation of informative dashboards designed to enlighten and empower consumers.

The industry has elevated its protection standards, resulting in enhanced identification and support mechanisms for those identified as problem gamblers. Encouragingly, a growing number of operators are adopting more robust support measures, which include excluding players particularly susceptible to the allure of gambling rewards.

Despite acknowledging the considerable advancements, the ANJ also draws attention to the troubling presence of gambling-related problems that persist. Citing a study conducted by the Games Observatory in 2021, it is estimated that as many as 1.4 million French people could be at risk, with nearly 400,000 potential pathological gamblers in the mix.

In response to these concerns, the ANJ has outlined a strategic plan for 2024-2026 that places a high priority on reducing excessive gambling instances and bolstering the safeguards protecting minors. The regulatory body calls upon operators to enhance identification protocols for at-risk players and to provide a broader spectrum of support services.

Operators are now under a mandate from the ANJ to intervene at the earliest indicator of problem gambling and to customize support measures according to the identified risk level. Further, operators must integrate comprehensive risk assessments into their marketing efforts to preempt potential issues.

A particularly heavy burden of responsibility rests on the shoulders of La Française des Jeux (FDJ), which possesses exclusive rights to lottery and retail betting in France, and Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU), its horse racing counterpart. These entities are expected to intensify oversight at points of sale, ensuring compliance with prohibitions against minor participation.

With a major sporting summer on the horizon, featuring events like Euro 2024 and the Olympic Games hosted in Paris, the ANJ urges operators to heighten their vigilance regarding problem gambling and underage participation.

Concerning underage gambling specifically, efforts to impede minors from bypassing restrictions have been noted. Progress appears to be diverse across sectors. While monopolistic and approved operators are making headway, there seems to be a standstill in the efforts put forth by casinos, gaming clubs, and racing entities overseen by the National Horse Racing Federation (FNCH).

Financially, casinos and gaming clubs have shown resiliency with a total turnover of €2.7 billion reported for 2023, where 74% of casinos saw a rise in gross gaming revenue in comparison to 2019. However, compliance levels among these establishments vary, with some demonstrating consistent progress while others lag behind, exhibiting minimal changes since 2021.

The majority of action plans submitted have met the approval of the ANJ; nevertheless, plans from two casinos and one gaming club were rejected. In an effort to facilitate improvement, the ANJ has disseminated a guide outlining how these establishments can enhance their prevention efforts.

Racing companies answerable to the FNCH have not escaped criticism. Condemned for persisting in “insufficient” problem gambler identification and support—especially regarding information systems at racetracks—their guidelines have not seen updates since 2023.

As France enters an era of intensified sports entertainment, the nation’s regulator remains steadfast in its commitment to prevent excessive and underage gambling through a regime of strategic initiatives and stringent oversight, ensuring a safer and more responsible gaming environment.