Meeting in plenary session on January 21, the members of the National Gaming Authority (ANJ) examined the 2021 promotional strategies of gambling operators, both in competition and monopoly, with particular regard to the objectives of prevention of excessive or pathological gambling and protection of minors. In view of the points of vigilance that were identified during this review, such as increased advertising pressure and the targeting of young audiences, the approval of these strategies is in most cases subject to conditions in their implementation.
Reminder of the legal framework
Since the reform of gambling regulation in 2020, all operators must submit their promotional strategies to the National Gaming Authority for approval each year. The latter examines it in the light of the objectives of the State’s policy on gambling and chance, and more specifically, the prevention of excessive or pathological gambling and the protection of minors.
This first exercise of approval of promotional strategies should allow the ANJ to progressively build its analytical grid to maintain a recreational game and for operators to become familiar with these new provisions. It is also on the basis of this analysis grid that the ANJ will be able, if necessary, to mobilize its power to withdraw from a particular advertising campaign that encourages gambling by minors or that contains excessive encouragement to gamble.
The ANJ’s analytical grid takes into account the balance to be struck between the legitimate use of advertising by operators to promote the legal offer and differentiate themselves in a highly regulated market, and its necessary channelling to counter the risk of problem gambling and protect minors. It will be regularly updated in the light of the observations or developments observed by the ANJ and the work carried out with the CSA and the ARPP, in the framework of the implementation of an observatory on gambling advertising.
It is in line with the reference framework for the prevention of excessive and pathological gambling and the protection of minors published in December 2020, which proposes an operational manual for operators in the implementation of their new obligations.
Points of vigilance common to operators for the 2021 strategies
The ANJ conducted a comparative analysis of the promotional strategies of the 14 licensed operators and the 2 operators under exclusive rights (FDJ and PMU). This analysis revealed points of vigilance, common to all these operators, which justify attaching conditions to approval decisions:
- A substantial increase in advertising budgets of 26% compared to 2019*, with large-scale campaigns around major sporting events planned for this year (notably the Euro Football Championship and the Tokyo Olympic Games);
- A reinforced targeting of young people with the use of digital marketing strategies on the social networks Snapchat and TikTok particularly followed by minors;
- Active stimulation of the player with the effect of intensifying gambling practices and the recruitment of new players (bonuses, personalization of the offer).
The particular case of monopoly operators (FDJ and PMU)
An examination of the promotional strategies of these two operators under exclusive rights shows that the Authority has serious concerns about them, particularly in light of the case law of the CJEU and the Conseil d’Etat, which reminds us that the monopolies’ advertising efforts must remain measured and strictly limited to what is necessary to channel consumers towards controlled gambling networks. Moreover, in connection with this jurisprudence, the ANJ will be vigilant to ensure that any advertising or promotional campaign by these operators does not hide behind arguments of general interest to give a positive image of gambling or to justify it.
The ANJ will be very attentive to ensure that the points of vigilance it has identified are the object of particular attention on the part of operators with regard to their obligations in terms of prevention of excessive gambling and protection of minors.
*Since the 2020 budgets are not significant, 2019 will be the last fiscal year carried out under normal market conditions.