ANJ Flags Player Protection Plans

French gambling regulator L’Autorité nationale des Jeux (ANJ) has reviewed player protection plans submitted by licensees as part of its latest initiative focusing on social responsibility in the gambling market. The news comes as part of a new range of player protection measures which the ANJ has submitted to the European Commission for approval.

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French gambling regulator L’Autorité nationale des Jeux (ANJ) has reviewed player protection plans which have been submitted to it by licensees and operators. ©Free-Photos/Pixabay

Player Protection Measures are Part of ANJ’s New Five-Pillar Strategy

France’s unified gambling regulator, L’Autorité nationale des Jeux (ANJ), has reviewed numerous player protection plans submitted to it by operators as part of its new focus on promoting social responsibility in the French gambling industry.

The submitted plans come as part of the French regulator’s series of new player protection regulations, which were submitted in January to the European Commission for approval.

Along with overhauls to France’s archaic self-exclusion system, these new regulations require every licensee to create and submit a comprehensive safer gambling plan which shows the operator’s commitment to ensuring players can gamble safely and sustainably.

This new series of player regulations submitted to the European Commission form part of L’Autorité nationale des Jeux’s (ANJ) latest five-pillar strategy, which is expected to steer its regulation of the gambling market for the next three years.

ANJ Approved All Plans and Rejected None; Land-Based Casinos Must Wait

After taking over its predecessor l’Autorité Nationale de Régulation des Jeux en Ligne (ARJEL) in June 2020 to oversee all gambling in France, the ANJ has finally released its findings after reviewing action plans from all major operators active in the country.

These include the country’s two former gambling monopolies — La Française des Jeux (FDJ) and Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU).

L’Autorité nationale des Jeux (ANJ) revealed that it approved 96 submitted plans and, while expressing some reservations about certain plans, did not provide any indication that any plan was outright rejected.

Concerning land-based casinos, the ANJ said it would make its decisions in due time, given that most may only open at a later date due to the ongoing restrictions being imposed due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

In reviewing the safer gambling plans which were submitted to it, the ANJ explained that it prioritized the following four main issues: prohibiting minors from gambling, allowing for players to self-exclude from gambling, identifying and supporting potential problem gamblers and establishing a general policy that focused on protecting these vulnerable groups.

FDJ’s Plans Approved, While PMU’s Plans Raised Concerns

While L’Autorité nationale des Jeux (ANJ) reviewed and subsequently approved upwards of 96 submitted safer gambling plans, its report focused in particular on France’s two former gambling monopolies — La Française des Jeux (FDJ) and Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU).

After examining the La Française des Jeux’s (FDJ) proposed plan, the ANJ said that it approved the operator’s strategy with no further conditions attached.

The ANJ even went so far as to say that the lottery operator’s plan “reflects the operator’s desire to meet” the French government’s goals regarding protecting minors and problem gamblers.

Continuing in its praise of the FDJ’s submitted plan, L’Autorité nationale des Jeux (ANJ) shared the following:

“It is distinguished in particular by the setting up of an ambitious program aimed at guaranteeing the ban on gambling by minors on all game types, innovative prevention initiatives, diversified and adapted to the profiles of players, and the existence of an advanced player identification and support system for pathological gamblers.”

The same could not be said, however, of Pari-Mutuel Urbain’s (PMU) submitted action plan, which caused the ANJ to raise some concerns and subsequently add further conditions.

“Further progress is expected from the operator to fully achieve the objective of preventing excessive or pathological gambling,” said the ANJ.

The regulator highlighted in particular the lack of availability of tools and resources for problem gamblers, weaknesses in identifying problem gamblers, as well as overall employee training.

L’Autorité nationale des Jeux (ANJ) nevertheless approved Pari-Mutuel Urbain’s (PMU) plan while demanding the operator make tangible improvements in these highlighted problem areas.

Solutions might take the form of, for example, providing technical specifications of its system in order to better identify problem gamblers, making efforts to strengthen its training system and ensuring the accessibility of RG tools.

The ANJ also led similar reviews of operators’ marketing strategies back in January 2021, causing it to express “serious concerns” about the marketing strategies of the FDJ and PMU, which it criticized for aggressively targeting minors and children.

Private Operators’ Plans Also Raised Some Concerns for ANJ

France’s two former gambling monopolies, La Française des Jeux (FDJ) and Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU), were far from the only operators which submitted safer gambling plans to regulator L’Autorité nationale des Jeux (ANJ).

A diverse array of private operators likewise submitted their plans, with online betting market leader Betclic eventually being approved with some conditions, following concerns raised by the ANJ.

The ANJ praised the iGaming operator for having a comprehensive program aimed at preventing minors from gambling online, an identification and support system for problem gamblers, as well as a structured and active company policy for preventing excessive gambling.

It nevertheless also raised concerns around the availability of responsible gambling tools, stressing that Betclic must make further efforts to ensure these are readily available to players.

Unibet operator Kindred’s indemnification systems targeting problem gambling were similarly praised by the unified French regulator, despite a lack of clear communication from the operator that minors are prohibited from gambling.

Winamax, in the meantime, was criticized for its lack of clear signposting of the prohibition on minors gambling, the few available responsible gambling tools it has an offering, and the need for improving its system of recognizing problem gamblers.

6% of French Gamblers Felt “Overwhelmed” During Second Lockdown

A survey conducted by French regulator L’Autorité nationale des Jeux (ANJ) in March 2021 revealed that 6% of French gamblers felt “overwhelmed” by their gambling habits following France entering its second period of national in October 2020 due to a new wave of coronavirus (Covid-19) cases.

The ANJ surveyed a group of 3,013 players who had gambled at least once in 2020, discovering that approximately 75% of players who placed some bets in 2020 did so during France’s second national lockdown period.

Its findings, however, focused on the 6% of French gamblers who reported feeling overwhelmed by the amount they were playing as the second lockdown commenced.

A further 70% of these 6% of French gamblers that reported feeling overwhelmed also expressed feelings of worry and anxiety concerning potential future financial difficulties as a result of their gambling behavior.

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