ANJ Sharply Criticizes French Monopolies

France’s main gambling regulator, L’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ), has expressed “serious concerns” concerning the marketing strategies of two influential French gambling monopolies: lottery operator La Française des Jeux (FDJ) and racing monopoly Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU). The sharp criticisms arrive as part of the regulator’s first annual review of operator promotional activities.

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“Serious concerns” have been expressed by France’s main gambling regulator, L’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ), relating to the marketing strategies of two major French gambling monopolies: lottery operator La Française des Jeux (FDJ) and racing monopoly Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU). ©Paul_Henri/Pixabay

Criticisms Arrive as Part of ANJ’s Focus on “Points of Vigilance”

As France attempts to significantly overhaul and better regulate its gambling sector, largely through the implementation of stronger player protection measures, the country’s main gambling authority L’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) has just entered its first full year acting as France’s unified regulator.

The ANJ has subsequently locked in on particular areas of focus in relation to its enforcement efforts within, specifically, the marketing plans and activities of certain licensed French operators.

Special attention has been given towards what the regulator terms as “points of vigilance,” such as for example protecting minors from underage gambling, as well as trying to stem the issue of problem gambling.

As part of France’s recently revamped self-exclusion system, all gambling operators currently providing offerings in the country are required to submit their marketing strategy to the ANJ at the outset of the year.

The regulator will then carefully examine each strategy, while always reserving the right to “mobilize its power” against a marketing campaign it deems particularly problematic.

ANJ Highlights Several Areas of Concern Across Gambling Sector

As France’s primary gambling regulator L’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) examined the marketing strategies of all 14 licensed private operators and the country’s two state monopolies, FDJ and PMU — it managed to highlight several key areas of concern currently existing in the French gambling sector’s marketing plans.

The ANJ noted how the targeting of young people has become “reinforced” as part of these operators’ marketing strategies, with a stronger focus on more advertising on youth-oriented social media platforms such as TikTok and Snapchat.

Additionally, advertising budgets have grown by 26% in comparison to 2019, according to the ANJ. 2019 was used in its investigation as the last comparable year due to the widespread disruption experienced in 2020 due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) global pandemic.

The lion’s share of these inflated advertising budgets were spent on large sporting events, such as the European Football Championships and the Olympic Games.

Finally, the Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) also revealed that there has been a notable increase in the “active stimulation” of French gamblers, done through the advertising of bonuses, as well as more personalized advertising. These practices may result in the intensification of problematic gambling habits, it warned.

French Gambling Authority Has Singled Out Two Gambling Monopolies

Upon analyzing the marketing and advertising strategies of 14 licensed private French gambling operators, as well as the country’s two state monopolies, the country’s main unified gambling regulator singled out the two monopolies in particular for their problematic approaches to advertising.

The two monopoly operators in question are lottery giant La Française des Jeux (FDJ) and horse racing operator Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU). The advertising practices of both have caused the Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) “serious concern,” especially in light of the fact that the two monopolies are only supposed to offer “measured and strictly limited” gambling advertising.

The ANJ then added that it promises vigilance in ensuring that these monopolies are unable to “hide behind arguments of general interest” when promoting their gambling offerings to consumers.

In closing, the unified French gambling regulator vowed to be “very careful” in 2021, in order to make sure that minors and problem gamblers in particular are protected from overly aggressive or nefarious marketing practices on behalf of gambling operators.

ANJ Also Overhauling French Self-Exclusion System

France’s main unified gambling regulator, the Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ), is clearly leading a more comprehensive and organized approach to scrutinizing the marketing practices of operators. 

This shift comes as the ANJ takes over responsibilities relating to gambling regulation from France’s Ministry of the Interior.

In an effort to curb problem gambling and gambling addiction in France, the ANJ has promised to greatly overhaul the way players sign up to the country’s self-exclusion system.

While signing up for the self-exclusion system currently requires players to visit a physical police station to do so — the Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) has been hard at work on establishing an overhauled, three-step digital process to replace the old, dated system. 

Players interested in signing up for the self-exclusion system would need to do so online by visiting the website Interdictiondejeux.anj.fr. The ANJ will then contact the player by phone in order to verify their identity, after which it should confirm the individual’s registration via a letter sent by post.

The streamlining of the self-exclusion process has also been a chief concern for the ANJ, as it now expects this new online process to last a maximum of two weeks, compared to six weeks as it was before. 

The self-exclusion period would therefore last for three years, after which point the players can ask to be removed from the self-exclusion program if they so desire.

It hopes these efforts will make self-exclusion much more easily accessible to everyday French gamblers. 

Recently Announced Partnership Aims to Protect French Minors

In addition to its efforts to overhaul France’s self-exclusion system, a brand-new partnership between French gambling regulator L’Autorité nationale des Jeux (ANJ) and the Union nationale des associations familiales (UNAF) was widely announced in December 2020.

The two organizations aim to collaborate on a number of targeted initiatives meant to drastically reduce the rate underage gambling in France. 

These are set to include joint research on the sorts of minors taking part in underage gambling, new educational materials to help families fight underage gambling at home, and implementing new training procedures for staff across the Union nationale des associations familiales (UNAF) network — in the hopes they become better equipped to advise and help people adversely affected by underage gambling.

The ANJ’s recent findings that popular social media apps such as Snapchat and TikTok are being used to push somewhat aggressive gambling advertisements on children and teenagers appear to be the first significant step in the regulator’s efforts to combat underage gambling — and certainly an encouraging one, to say the least.

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