The European Gaming and Betting Association has called on the French authorities to regulate online casino games to tackle the “alarming” size of the black market.
EGBA secretary general Maarten Haijer said the recent study which found that France’s black market accounts for up to 11 per cent of the country’s market makes it one of the EU’s “largest online gambling black markets” alongside Germany and Italy.
Calling for a licensing system to be implemented, he said France’s ban on online casino is “counter-productive” 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,” Haijer added
France study causes concern
A study by PwC, commissioned by the French gambling regulator L’Autorite Nationale des Jeux found that the country’s unregulated market is worth between €748m and €1.5bn and that 79 per cent of the GGR generated by the illegal online gambling market comes from “high-risk gamblers.”
The report said three million people are estimated to have engaged with illegal content at least once a month in 2023, with games such as blackjack and roulette accounting for about 50 per cent of the illegal activity.
One in two of that group did not know the games they were playing were from unlicensed providers. Fifty per cent of the illegal gambling websites whose operators were identified in the study are owned by companies registered in Curaçao.
Haijer said: “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 best way to tackle a black market is to establish a competitive regulated market alternative. The time to act is now.”
Germany, Italy make headlines
The EGBA also recently expressed concern about Italy’s black market and said removing the ban on gambling advertising would help the country’s regulated industry.
In Germany, a recent study by the German Online Casino Association and the German Sports Betting Association claimed that almost 50 per cent of gaming activity in Germany took place through unregulated operators.
The GGL, Germany’s regulator, said it “firmly rejects” criticisms of its approach to data collection on the black market.