UEFA European Football Championship and sports betting: the French Gambling Authority (ANJ) gathers operators and announces a dynamic and structuring action planPublié le lun 13/09/2021 - 16:45
On 20 July 2021, the French Gambling Authority (ANJ) gathered sports betting’s operators in order to make the overview of the European Football Championship that has been scarred by some abuses. Resulting from a constructive exchange, these operators have agreed on the necessity to proceed at a rebalancing of their practices in order to preserve the recreational model of the French gambling market. As such, the ANJ introduced an action plan that seeks to reinforce operators’ compliance, to adapt and complete existing tools and, where required, to use sanctioning procedures.
Questionable practices highlighted during the European Football Championship
UEFA European Football Championship 2021 confirmed the growing place of sports bets in France with EUR 434 million of online stakes. The French team matches have aroused a strong popularity by totalling EUR 88 million of online bets, which means an average of EUR 22 million per match. This competition has underlined the existence of questionable practices around sports betting, such as the media hype, the targeting of young people or the excessive stimulation of the game. For the first time, the public debate has seized this very subject and has relayed serious concerns coming from various circles. According to a Harris Interactive inquiry* conducted for the ANJ during the European Football Championship, more than half of those who had seen sports betting ads feel that they are too many of them and close to eight out of ten French people who had seen these ads consider that they can contain a risk of addiction.
*Inquiry conducted by Harris Interactive online from the 6 to the 8 July 2021 for the ANJ with a cross section of 1038 French population aged over 18 years old.
The ANJ has brought gambling operators together in order to learn from the European Football Championship
After having drew the attention of operators on several critical points since June, the ANJ has gathered them on the 20 July in order to do the review of the European Football Championship and to address them the following messages:
- A yellow line has been crossed in terms of advertising pressure during this competition, which leads to question the model of regulation in place for the past 10 years; it is important to drastically and immediately reduce the sports betting’s advertising pressure.
- The commercial communications targeting young adults and keeping the illusion of easy money are particularly problematic. As a result of these discussions, which took place in a constructive atmosphere, gambling operators have decided that they collectively share the concerns expressed by the regulator and are prepared to work alongside it in order to propose some improvements and to limit these commercial communications.
The ANJ establish an action plan for games offer to remain recreational and well-balanced
Given the shared objective of recovery practices between regulator and operators, the ANJ has announced the launch of 5 projects to fight the observed abuses and to clarify or complete the legal framework. These projects should be over by the end of the year.
- The ANJ has asked operators for a mid-term review of implementation of their promotional strategies as approved by the ANJ’s Board in January 2021 and reserves the right, after examination of these reviews, to initiate sanctions procedures in the event of noncompliance.
- The ANJ will launch a consultation of stakeholders on advertising in September. This will allow the ANJ to address recommendations to these stakeholders, and if necessary, to propose new tools of intervention.
- A partnership is initiated with the ARPP (Self-Regulatory Body of Advertising Professionals) in order to decline regulatory restrictions into concrete recommendations for operators. The objective is to issue precise and operational guidelines on advertising by the end of the year.
Regarding commercial gratifications (recruitment bonus offers and loyalty offers):
- The aim is to analyse in detail the French market’s practices but also the ones in effect in other European countries. This study will allow to define the “reasonable” conditions of gratifications, in accordance with the reference framework, and to evaluate the opportunity of a regulation strengthening or the limitations of these offers.
Regarding the identification and the support of excessive players:
- The next 21 September, the ANJ will organise a seminar gathering several scientific experts on gambling and games of chance in order to agree on a strong and common definition of excessive or pathological/compulsive/problematic gambling which will be used as a model for all stakeholders. The ANJ has indeed noticed that this definition varies greatly from an operator to another, which tends to weaken players’ protection.
- Controls are being carried out following some complaints from problems gamblers who haven’t been detected by operators and who have been encouraged to continue to play through the granting of commercial bonuses.
Regarding stakes limitations:
Many players regularly complain to the mediator about stakes limitations initiated by operators.
- Following the decision of the French State Council on the 24 March 2021, which recognises players as consumers, the ANJ has beginning a thorough review on the General Terms and Conditions of use proposed by operators through the French consumption code
- A deliberation, updating the 2017 ARJEL’s recommendation and overseeing more stringently stakes limitations, will be proposed to the ANJ Board members in September.
- Once this rule is established, the ANJ may decide to carry out control operations that could lead to sanctions, where required, for operators who did not comply with it.
As announced before the start of the European Football Championship, the ANJ has referred to the competent administrative and judiciary authorities, regarding strongly developed misleading commercial practices in some tipsters’ websites which had strongly developed lately.
For Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, ANJ Chairwoman: “the European Football Championship had an incredibly useful impact because it highlighted and questioned practices issues for sports betting that the ANJ had identified during its first year of existence. It is not impossible to make young people believe that we could win money easily by betting! Aware of the threats caused by the current situation on players’ protection, the ANJ wants to answer it in a decisive and effective way with an action plan that will quickly lead to the clarification of the applicable rules, the possible proposal of new intervention tools and control operations or reinforced sanctions.”
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