2022/03/08 – The French gambling regulator ANJ has been given the power to block any unlicensed online gambling sites from operating in France, regardless of whether those sites advertise actively to French punters.
The Law that allows ANJ this is called “Law for the democratization of sport in France”, and it came into power just last week. It implements several measures on how the regulator can take action against unlicensed gambling.
We can make parallels with the Dutch gambling regulator called KSA, which also has the power to block unlicensed sites. Another country that is looking to implement a similar model is Sweden.
The president of the legislative body in France can address any online gambling operator that is looking to offer its services to French people to cease its activity. Then, the operator will be able to respond with observations within five days, and if it doesn’t the ANJ can order internet service providers in the country to take any measure to prevent access.
So far, ANJ has blocked around 250 unlicensed gambling sites, so it is quite serious in its attempt to reduce unlicensed gambling.
Before this act was introduced, the gambling regulator in France had the power to intervene when they noticed an unlicensed platform, but shutting it down was near impossible. Now, the bureaucratic procedure is not like before, and the ANJ can tell online search engines to block some sites if necessary.
There is no need for the ANJ to prove that the site was actively targeting French players, all that is needed is for it to consider the site to be a threat to the country’s online gaming market.
There are also new rules in the advertising sector, that are in place to fix the “highly fragmented digital world”. So, advertising is not allowed when it invites excessive gambling, trivializes, or values it in any sense.
The ANJ states that online gambling advertising cannot contain any scenes of excitement or emotion that would invite people to dive into such activity.
Advertising for online gambling cannot present the activity as an alternative option to paid work for French citizens, as it is not a “solution to personal difficulties”. Of course, it cannot be aimed at children or adolescents, so any advertisement cannot use activities or cultural works popular with younger citizens.
There is also the suggestion to reduce the advertising pressure, as there could be a maximum of three messages for all gambling operators in every advertisement break on television.
According to the ANJ, this law is a major development and a step forward in the long-standing fight against illegal gambling in France. This is a project that the regulatory authority made its priority for 2022, as it is in line with the new strategy it has been working on for several months with all digital players in the country – search engines, social networks, payment solution providers, etc.
Additionally, under this new legislation, the ANJ has to collect and analyze reports of suspicious betting on French-licensed betting operators, but this is something that the regulator has been active in for a long time.
This is undoubtedly a major development in the French online gambling world, and so far, regulators across the world have struggled to contain illegal online gambling. However, if successful, this is a step that might inspire other governments to implement similar measures in their combat with illegal offshore online gambling.
The ANJ states that this is a necessary step to protect French punters from the negative aspects of online gambling, and it remains to be seen how successful it will be in the near to long-term future.