France’s gambling regulator L’Autorité nationale des jeux (ANJ) has spoken out after a tweet from online poker and sportsbook operator Winamax caused outrage among politicians.
The tweet, posted in the wake of French football clubs Olympique Lyonnais and Paris Saint Germain qualifying for the Champions League semi-finals, was based on lyrics by French rap duo PNL.
A term used in the tweet is considered homophobic, prompting a number of politicians, including French Minister for Sports Roxana Mărăcineanu, to criticise the operator. One, National Assembly member for Ain Olga Givernet, went as far as to approach ANJ asking for Winamax’s sports betting licence to be suspended.
ANJ said that such a communication from a major operator was “not likely to send a signal giving players confidence and conveying an image of a responsible and sustainable market”.
However, it pointed out that under the online gambling legislation passed in May 2010, then updated in October last year, the tweet was not likely to be considered a failure by Winamax to fulfil its regulatory obligations. It was therefore not grounds for a suspension, the regulator said.
In any case, ANJ added, any punishment could only be awarded after a hearing in which the operator was invited to explain its actions.
It did highlight concerns about a gambling-related tweet using lyrics from a musical act with a particularly large following among younger people, however. ANJ said this may amount to an incitement for young people to gamble, something operators are legally required to avoid.
It noted that under France’s new regulatory framework for gambling, it now has the power to approve and demand changes to licensees’ promotional strategy.
ANJ’s expanded brief, which saw it take over responsibility for the country’s igaming market from L’Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL) in June, states that operators have to present their marketing strategy to the regulator for approval by 30 October each year.
“ANJ will be particularly vigilant towards the strategy that will be submitted by Winamax this October,” the regulator warned. “This promotional strategy must scrupulously respect its obligations in terms of preventing addiction and protecting minors.
“For these reasons, it would be particularly welcomed if Winamax would take the initiative to immediately delete this communication from its various social media accounts.”
The tweet has since been deleted.