Inside France's Gambling Regulation Shift with Insights from Cathie-Rosalie Joly and Cécile Bouchard of Bird & Bird
French gambling attorneys Cathie-Rosalie Joly and Cécile Bouchard of Bird & Bird offer a deep dive into France's evolving landscape of gambling regulations
The French government has proposed new mandates aimed at bolstering responsible gambling practices, especially in the realm of online gambling advertisements. Coupled with recent directives by the French gambling regulator, Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ), these moves highlight an increased focus on the societal impact of gambling and the necessity for stringent regulatory measures.
In an enlightening commentary provided by Cathie-Rosalie Joly and Cécile Bouchard of Bird & Bird, a comprehensive perspective on these evolving regulations has been offered. The Bird & Bird team reveals that the ANJ's key concern lies in the intersection between sports and gambling. Such a combination could potentially trivialize the games, making them more appealing, and thus, encourage excessive or pathological gambling.
"In July 2022, to address these risks and strengthen the commercial practice's regulation, the ANJ established a dedicated working group alongside the Ministry of Sport. Later, the Directorate General of Health and the Interministerial Mission for the Fight against Drugs and Addictive Behaviour also became part of this collaborative effort", Joly shared.
These combined efforts led to the introduction of ANJ's guidelines on 1 June 2023. The guidelines, which Joly and Bouchard described as "expressing ANJ's interpretation of the existing regulation, as well as non-prescriptive recommendations," are based on three key themes - protection of minors, prevention of excessive or pathological gambling, and combating illegal operators.
"The ANJ does not outright ban the use of athletes in commercial communications. Rather, it restricts the contexts in which such utilization is allowed. For instance, the association of a minor's sportsperson with a commercial communication favoring an operator is now prohibited, as is the representation of sportspersons, referees, and other competition participants who are in a position to bet on their sport in commercial communications," Joly added.
Further, the ANJ now prohibits sports event organizers, leagues, federations, clubs, teams, and individual sportspeople from entering into partnership agreements with gambling operators operating illegally in France.
The introduction of these guidelines and recommendations is just part of the ANJ's comprehensive action plan. The ANJ had previously expressed vigilance regarding the sharp increase in sports sponsorship, which tends to elevate minors' exposure and normalizes the link between sports and gambling. It suggests a broader trend towards tighter regulation within the industry.
Moreover, these issues are expected to be influenced by the potential introduction of a specific regime in France to govern digital games based on web3 technologies like blockchain and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Traditional gambling sector players and the Council of State have expressed concerns about this new status due to these games' proximity to the video game scene, making them attractive to young people.
"It seems certain that the ANJ will be called upon to rule on the commercial communications of these new players, which bring together several risk factors already identified by the authority", Joly concluded.
As we observe the dynamic evolution of regulations around gambling in France, the commitment to protect vulnerable populations and prevent excessive or pathological gambling is clear. The effectiveness of these changes will rest largely on the operators' compliance and the continuous vigilance of regulating bodies. The industry's future landscape, while uncertain, certainly promises to be interesting.