Marketing regulation

ANJ slams monopolies in first annual marketing review

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France’s gambling regulator, L'Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ), said it had “serious concerns” about the marketing strategies of lottery operator La Française des Jeux (FDJ) and racing monopoly Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU) in its first annual review of operator promotional activities.

At the start of its first full year as France’s unified gambling regulator, the ANJ highlighted specific areas of focus for its enforcement efforts within the marketing activities of licensed operators.

It gave particular attention to what it classified as “points of vigilance”, such as protecting minors and preventing problem gambling.

All operators are required to submit their marketing strategy to the the ANJ at the beginning of the year. The regulator, which then examines each strategy says it can “mobilise its power” against a potentially problematic campaign.

Examining the strategies of all 14 licensed private operators and the country’s two state monopolies – FDJ and PMU – the regulator highlighted a number of areas of concern across the sector.

It said that targeting of young people had been “reinforced” in these strategies, with operators advertising more on youth-focused platforms such as Snapchat and TikTok.

In addition, the ANJ noted that advertising budgets had grown by 26% in comparison with 2019 – the last comparable year due to the pandemic-related disruption of 2020 – with much of this spend focused on large sporting events like the European Football Championships and the Olympic Games.

The regulator also said that there was an increase in “active stimulation” of players through bonuses or personalised advertising, which it warned may intensify gaming habits.

The ANJ then singled out the two monopoly operators, saying it had “serious concerns” about the advertising practices of both, especially when it considered that monopolies were supposed to offer only “measured and strictly limited” advertising.

The regulator added that it will be “vigilant” to ensure that these operators do not “hide behind arguments of general interest” in order to promote gambling.

Finally, the regulator said that it will be “very careful” in 2021 to ensure that minors and problem gamblers are protected from marketing.