ANJ Annual Report 2022: What New Challenges for the Regulation of Gambling?

July 27, 2023 | Gambling

FRANCE (July 26, 2023) — The year 2022 was characterized by the consolidation of the numerous tools made available to the regulator and the culmination of an ambitious action plan relating to the strengthening of the framework for the advertising practices of gaming operators. The growth of the market, the trivialization of gambling and the arrival of new gaming offers question the regulatory framework put in place in 2019. Three years after its creation, the Autorité nationale des jeux (ANJ) wishes to have new intervention tools adapted to these issues, allowing it to control both the traditional market and new gaming offers, with a view to reducing the number of excessive gamblers.

Gambling in France in 2023

The gambling market recorded record turnover in 2022, with gross gaming revenue of 12.9 billion euros, up 20% compared to 2021.

With one out of two French people gambling, gambling has become a trivialized activity in just a few years, affecting all ages and all categories. Thanks to digital solicitation techniques, the game is available in one’s pocket and almost at all times. This “industrialization” transforms for some the logic of the recreational game into a logic of financial investment . Beyond simple entertainment, we also play “really” to earn money or get rich. This trend is obviously more marked among people who are more economically fragile, in particular in a period when the purchasing power of the French is decreasing.

These developments are all the more worrying as the negative externalities inherent in the gambling market in terms of addiction also seem to be growing. The Games Observatory estimated the number of excessive gamblers at 400,000 in 2020. The file of voluntary gambling bans managed by the ANJ records a continuous increase in the number of registration requests (1300 requests per month on average), in particular from young people and now totals more than 53,000 people.

Beyond the clinical and individual dimension of addiction, it is now more akin to a social problem , which causes collateral damage in the player’s direct entourage: over-indebtedness, family problems, school difficulties, etc

A necessary reinforcement of the means of action of the ANJ to reduce the number of excessive gamblers

Consequently, three years after the implementation of regulations which already reinforced the obligations of gambling operators, the ANJ now considers that the population of problem gamblers must be reduced in absolute value , by acting in a diversified and vigorous way on supply and demand, as far upstream as possible. 

To do this, the current regulatory system must be supplemented. This is why the ANJ proposed to the Government to have reinforced powers, such as:

  • Prohibit gambling advertising during game broadcasts from five minutes before kick-off until five minutes after the final whistle;

  • Control and regulate the volumes and advertising methods used by gaming operators;
  • Withdraw gambling offers when they present a manifest and excessive risk;
  • Give the ANJ the ability to set a loss ceiling for the most vulnerable categories of players (18-25 years old);

  • Put in place an obligation to permanently display a player’s “activity counter” (normative feedback and activity indicators such as net losses);

  • Strengthen the effectiveness of the voluntary gambling ban mechanism by reducing the duration of the ban to one year , renewable tacitly, without the possibility of going back on this ban period;

  • Extend to all gambling operators the obligation to donate 0.002% of their annual bets to finance studies on gambling.

New gaming offers that challenge the current regulatory model 

JONUMs (monetizable digital objects)

New types of games, Web3 in particular, which appeal to young or speculative audiences have appeared recently. Some of these games are similar to games of chance and generate risks broadly similar to those posed by gambling (addiction, money laundering, prevention of underage gambling, etc.).

In this context, the Government wished to define a regulatory framework specific to Web3 games. The “securing and regulating the digital space” bill which was examined in the Senate at the beginning of July includes an article which sets the conditions for the operation of games using monetizable digital objects (“JONUM”). At this stage, a definition has been adopted but the necessary protections to be put in place have not yet been defined. The examination in the National Assembly to come this fall will be decisive in this regard.

At this stage of the parliamentary discussion and beyond the opinion it has given to the government, the ANJ wishes to underline the following points:

  • During the experimental period and taking into account the permanent evolution that characterizes this type of offer, it is imperative that the JONUM regulator has room for maneuver in the implementation of the new legal framework. It would therefore be very appropriate for it to be able to enact flexible rules of law and be endowed with a power of formal notice in order to encourage compliance by JONUM publishers with the objectives set by the legislator, by seeking pragmatic solutions, if necessary concerted with the publishers of JONUM;
  • The protection system must be solid and adapted to the risks presented by this new gambling offer (prohibition of minors, prior declaration of the game to the ANJ, restriction of the content of commercial communications and power to withdraw non-compliant advertisements, implementation player protection mechanisms, control of anti-money laundering obligations);

  • Finally, the implementation of this new legal regime must not give rise to strategies for circumventing the legal and tax constraints applicable to gambling and lead to a distortion of competition to the detriment of legal gambling operators .

The question of the opening of the online casino market 

To fight more effectively against the illegal offer and feed the reflection on the possible evolution of the existing framework, the ANJ commissioned a very complete quantitative and qualitative study on the state of the illegal offer and consumption habits. This study, which will be published in September, will give an estimate of the size of the market and will provide a better understanding of both illegal offers and player practices. It is on this basis that the ANJ will present an assessment of its activity of administrative blocking of illegal sites effective for a year as well as the lessons to be learned in terms of regulatory options.

For Isabelle FALQUE-PIERROTIN: “  The extension of the gambling market to new gaming offers is a critical period for the regulatory model put in place three years ago. This can lead to destabilize it or, on the contrary, to reinforce it. What should guide reflection is the absolute need to reduce the number of excessive gamblers, which today constitutes a social problem that goes beyond the individual dimension of addiction”.

View the report

SOURCE: Autorité nationale des jeux (ANJ).

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