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France to introduce new player protection requirements

| By Daniel O'Boyle
The French government has notified a series of new player protection rules to the European Commission, requiring operators to create safer gambling action plans and provide tools such as deposit limits to customers.

All operators will be required to present a safer gambling action plan to ANJ, which was formed in June 2020 as a new regulator covering all forms of gambling, under the new rules.

The regulator must approve the plan and will add further recommendations if a plan is unsatisfactory.

This, the French government said, was designed to give ANJ “a better knowledge of the actions developed by the various gaming activity sectors and to identify the difficulties encountered by the operators”.

This action plan should include a review of action taken in the most recent year to prevent both excessive and underage gambling, as well as plans for the next year. 

Operators operating multiple venues or brands need to submit only one plan.

The country’s gambling monopolies – lottery giant La Française des Jeux (FDJ) and horse racing operator Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU) – must submit their plans by 30 September this year.

Online operators must submit theirs by 30 November, while trackside racing operators and land-based casino and gaming hall operators by 31 December.

A separate action plan must also be produced covering operators’ promotional strategies. This plan is due on 31 October.

Upon reviewing these, the ANJ may order an operator to withdraw a commercial communication if it “directly or indirectly incites minors or persons banned from gambling to gamble or involves an excessive incentive to gamble”.

The rules state the monopoly operators will be held to a higher standard for player protection.

A further section of the new rules requires operators “provide all players with the tools and resources necessary” to stay in control of their gambling, such as deposit or play time limits. Players may freely set their limits, and operators’ suggested limits should be “reasonable”.

“All of these tools and information must be easily accessible , adapted to the specificities of the game in question and attractive so as to arouse the interest of players and facilitate their use,” the draft says.

The new regulations also require operators to “limit the risk potential of addiction” when designing their game offering and must “assess the addiction potential of the gambling offer and its attractiveness to minors, before and after providing it”. 

Operators must examine how their platform, presentation, structural features of their games and promotional strategies affect this. The regulations suggest the use of scoring tools based on objective bases, such as ASTERIG (Assessment Tool to Measure and Evaluate the Risk Potential of Gambling Products) to make these examinations.

In addition, the regulations say that operators must make it clear at their venues or on their website that minors are prohibited from gambling.

Stakeholders may comment on the rules until the end of the standstill period on 29 March.