EGBA Calls on France to Regulate Online Casino Amid Growing Black Market Concerns

December 7, 2023 | Casinos

EGBA urges the French authorities to regulate online casino games in response to an alarming new study which suggests the country has one of the EU’s largest online gambling black markets.

Brussels, 5 December 2023 – The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) expresses its concern about the findings of a new study into the size of France’s black market for online gambling. The study, commissioned by the national gambling authority l’Autorité Nationale des Jeux, estimates France’s black market for online gambling to be worth up to €1.5 billion annually in gross gaming revenue (GGR), equivalent to nearly half France’s regulated online gambling revenue.[1] This suggests that France has one of the EU’s largest online gambling black markets and, to address the problem, EGBA calls on the French authorities to end the country’s ban on online casino games.

Although France is one of Europe’s significant gambling markets, it is one of just two EU countries which has a ban on online casino games,[2] creating a black market with all its inherent risks. The new study, [3] conducted by PwC, found that websites offering online casino games are major contributors to the country’s online black market and, along with slots, account for up to 50% of France’s black market website traffic. While there is clearly demand in France for these games, these websites operate outside of French laws and many of them threaten the safety of French players, who have no legal recourse nor minimum protections, such as self-exclusion, when they use them.

The study found that around 3 million French players use black market websites at least once a month. Even more concerning, the study also established that high risk players account for 79% of the GGR generated by these players in the black market, meaning vulnerable players can be exposed to unsafe, unregulated websites which offer them no safer gambling protections.

To safeguard these players and foster a safe gambling environment for all, EGBA urges the French authorities to reassess the country’s existing ban on online casino games, and, consistent with the already established French regulation of online sports betting, take the necessary steps to ensure there is a safe and regulated environment also for the country’s online casino players. Such a regulatory framework should be based on a multi-licensing model, where several operators can obtain business-to-customer licenses, as this has long been proven[4] to be the most effective method to reduce black markets in online gambling.

“The scale of France’s online black market is alarming, and we believe it is one of the EU’s largest online gambling black markets, alongside Germany and Italy. The country’s prohibition of online casino is clearly a big part of the problem. Given the popularity of online casino, and the need to protect consumers from the risks of the black market, it is imperative that the French authorities urgently reassess their current ban on online casino games. The ban is counterproductive and fails consumers. By regulating online casino games through a multi-licensing model, France would better protect its consumers, regain more control over its online gambling market, and secure vital tax revenues. The best way to tackle a black market is to establish a competitive regulated market alternative. The time to act is now.”  Maarten Haijer, Secretary General, EGBA.

[1] The overall regulated gambling market in France was worth nearly €13 billion gross gaming revenue in 2022, including €2.96 billion for online gambling (sports and horse racing betting and poker). Source: ANJ.

[2] Cyprus and France are the only EU countries where online casino is strictly prohibited. Source: EGBA.

[3] The study was carried out from January to March 2023 and included a web panel comprising over 11,000 participants. Source: ANJ.

[4] All EU countries which regulate online casino do so through a multi-licensing framework, while only Austria, Finland, and Poland have monopolistic arrangements for the provision of online casino games. Finland is expected to move to a multi-licensing framework by 2026.

About EGBA

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) is the Brussels-based trade association representing the leading online gambling operators established, licensed, and regulated within the EU, including bet365, Betsson Group, Entain, Flutter, Kindred Group, and 888 William Hill, while Aircash is an associate member. EGBA works together with national and EU authorities and other stakeholders towards a well-regulated and well-channelled online gambling market which provides a high level of consumer protection and takes account of the realities of the internet and online consumer demand. EGBA member companies meet rigorous regulatory standards and collectively hold 267 online gambling licenses, serving 31.2 million customers across 22 different European countries. They represent approximately one-third of Europe’s online gambling gross gaming revenue (GGR).

SOURCE: The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA).

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