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France’s ANJ looks to simplify self-exclusion system

| By Robert Fletcher
French gambling regulator Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) has set out plans to simplify the country’s self-exclusion system to make it easier for players to block access to gambling products.

ANJ, which formally took over management of the self-exclusion system from France’s Ministry of the Interior at the turn of the year, has pledged to revamp the way players can sign up to the service.

Currently, consumers are required to physically visit a police station and have a face-to-face interview with a representative from the Central Race and Gambling Service (SCCJ) in order to finalise their registration.

Some 38,500 people in France are currently self-excluded from gambling, with the service blocking access to land-based casinos and gaming clubs, as well as sports betting and online poker websites, and games operated by Française des Jeux and PMU both online and at physical points of sale.

However, ANJ said the average delay between this and the self-exclusion coming into effect was around six weeks, while it also said the police would sometimes dissuade consumers from opting into the service.

In October 2019, a reform of regulation saw responsibility of the self-exclusion entrusted to ANJ, and since the organisation was formed in June last year, it has been working on a new, three-step digital process that it said will make self-exclusion easily accessible to gamblers. 

First, players could request to self-exclude online via Interdictiondejeux.anj.fr or by sending a letter by post. ANJ would contact the player shortly after by phone to verify their identity, after which it would confirm their registration via letter.

ANJ said the new system would reduce registration time to a maximum of two weeks, instead of six weeks under the previous regime.

Self-exclusion would last for a period of three years, after which the player could ask to remove the block. ANJ would again verify this request and inform the player when they have been removed from the self-exclusion list.

“This new service should make it easier for players to have recourse to gambling self-exclusion,” ANJ board member, addiction specialist and psychiatrist Mario Blaise said. “Problematic gamblers think about it, they hear about it, but if the process is too complicated, they give up.

“We can hope that the [reform of the system] by the ANJ will enable those who wish to do so to use it earlier and more quickly. And we know that reducing access to the gambling offer is an important step for players in difficulty.”

The proposal comes after the French government last week 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.

If approved, the new rules will require all operators to present a safer gambling action plan to ANJ, with the regulator needing to approve the plan and add further recommendations if a plan is unsatisfactory.

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