One of the EU's largest black markets

EGBA urges French authorities to regulate online casino games amid illegal market concerns

Reading time 1:53 min

Responding to growing concerns about French gamblers' exposure to illegal market activities, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has urged the country's authorities to advance discussions on regulating online casino games. The call follows a study commissioned by the Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ), France's Unified Gaming Authority, which raised alarms over the extent of illegal gambling.

The study highlighted that approximately 3 million French players, from a total gambling population of 9 million, frequented illegal websites, leading to an estimate that France's online gambling black market could be worth up to 1.5 billion euros ($1.62 billion) per year in gross gaming revenue (GGR). This figure accounts for nearly half of France's regulated online gambling revenue and is primarily attributed to players opting for online casinos, a segment still unregulated under existing French gambling laws.

The EGBA noted that France, being a major European gambling market, is one of the two EU countries to prohibit online casino games, thereby fostering a black market with inherent risks. The association expressed concern over the black market's engagement with vulnerable and high-risk players, who are believed to have generated 79% of the unlicensed GGR.

The study by PwC found that online casino sites, particularly those offering slot games, contribute significantly to France's online black market. Despite a clear demand in France for these games, many of these sites operate outside of French laws, lacking player safety measures and legal recourse, including self-exclusion options.

To protect players and promote a safe gambling environment, the EGBA urged French authorities to reassess the existing ban on online casino games. They recommend a regulatory framework based on a multiple licensing model, allowing multiple operators to obtain business-to-customer licenses. This method is deemed the most effective in reducing online gambling black markets and ensuring a regulated environment, according to the Brussels-based trade and standards body.

Maarten Haijer

Maarten Haijer, Secretary General, EGBA said: “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,” he concluded.

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