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France considers online casino amendments to digital bill

| By Marese O'Hagan
MPs in France have begun considering amendments to a proposed bill to secure and regulate the digital space, which could lead to the regulation of online casino.
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The bill calls for the regulation of “games with monetisable digital objects” which, as defined in article 15, it names JONUM.

If passed, the bill would regulate Web3 products like those powering Sorare and Socios, as non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Distinguishing JONUM from gambling

Article 15 was subject to a number of proposed amendments. Many of these amendments focused on distinguishing JONUM from distinct gambling products.

One amendment proposed adding “by preventing risks of harm to public order” to the title of the article. This amendment explained that, currently, there is a risk that illegal online casinos could be classified under JONUM.

It adds that this could see illegal operators modify their offering to players into digital objects. Doing this would mean that they would technically be adhering to the law.

“This amendment proposes to take this reality into consideration and thus make it possible to clarify article 15.”

A similar amendment proposed facilitating the fight against illegal online casino offerings in France by authorising land-based casinos the opportunity to offer online gambling. The land-based operations and online offering would be linked. This, read the amendment, would act as a channel for French players “towards a secure, controlled and taxed offer”.

Another set of amendments proposed deleting article 15 in full. One of the amendments suggested that the “vagueness” of the definition provided for JONUM would have negative effects.

An amendment of this type from France’s Ecologist group reads: “The Ecologist group does not want the issues raised by Web3 to be limited to an article in a catch-all bill.”

Instead, the group “calls for a real bill dedicated to JONUM, blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, allowing parliament to decide on these sectors of the future with full knowledge of the facts.”

Defining the gambling framework.

One of the amendments proposes that monetisable digital objects should not “be transferred, directly or indirectly… for consideration to any gaming company”. This is to block the JONUM framework from applying to casinos and online gambling.

Online casino is currently illegal in France. But in May, Philippe Latombe of the Democratic Movement party introduced Bill 1248, which outlined proposals for online casino regulation in France. The bill would implement a “five-year moratorium” wherein online casino gambling would be legal for this period. However this would only apply to “national actors”.

Another amendment called for the removal of the word “monetisable” from “monetisable digital games”. This phrase is in the title of article 15. According to the proposal this would help to distinguish JONUM from distinct forms of gambling, which are subject to certain public health orders.

The amendments say that JONUM currently falls under four conditions that qualify gambling. It presents an offering to the public, includes a mechanism involving chance, involves a financial sacrifice and offers a monetisable gain.

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