Posted on: March 17, 2023, 07:55h.
Last updated on: March 17, 2023, 12:38h.
France’s gambling regulator, the National Gaming Authority (ANJ, for its French acronym), is working overtime to weed out questionable online gaming platforms. This week, it published its first blacklist of sites that it determined didn’t meet French gaming standards and which must be blocked.
This new list, which the ANJ will update monthly, includes 532 online gaming platforms. In many cases, the same dubious operator introduced several different sites, all of which the regulator determined run afoul of the law.
A quick overview highlights a few names that stand out. MaChance, for example, spent more time trying to circumvent the regulator than it did abiding by the rules. Between last September and this past February, it repeatedly launched new sites, alone prompting around 40 ANJ blocking orders.
A year ago, the legal framework for the fight against illegal online gaming received greater flexibility. Previously, the president of the ANJ had to go to a judicial court judge to request a blocking order. That process took an average period of four to six months before the judge returned the resolution.
As of March 2022, blocking orders jumped from being a legal matter to an administrative procedure. This gave rise for the first time to an administrative blocking and delisting order last June.
Now, the average processing time for an order is only one to two months, and only needs approval from an administrative judge. Since the transition, 152 orders have been issued with regard to 532 URLs relating to illegal gambling content.
As a result, the ANJ can banish the platform from France. It will contact each company and give it five days to comply. If the company refuses, the regulator will order ISPs to block access to sites it adds to its list. Even so, by using a VPN with a French ISP, several of the platforms the ANJ has on its blacklist, including some allegedly blocked six months ago, are still accessible.
In addition, the regulator can also order search engines to delist the names. However, like MaChance proved, if one site goes down, another pops up.
Some illicit operators proved that they’re not very smart at trying to avoid oversight. Joël-Robuchon.net, for example, stole the name of the late famous French chef and was a disaster waiting to happen. A Chef of the Century and Michelin star-winner, despite his ties to MGM Resorts, would be unlikely to launch an online casino, and the name immediately drew unwanted attention from the ANJ.
France’s Small Online Network
France doesn’t have many licensed online operators. In a country with a population of more than 67 million, there are only 17 approved operators. These offer a total of 26 regulated platforms, according to the ANJ.
By way of comparison, Spain, with a population of 74.4 million, has 77 operators, according to the country’s gaming regulator. These offer 128 online gaming platforms. The UK has over 268 licensed operators for a population of 67.3 million.
However, France likes it this way. It doesn’t want a large footprint in the online segment, believing a smaller selection of options is more manageable. It’s also concerned that online casinos will eat into the profits the land-based casinos enjoy.