- Illegal online gambling is generating up to €1.5 billion in GGR in France
- French players go to unlicensed sites as online casinos are currently illegal in the country
- The EGBA has called on the French government to set up a licensing system for online casinos
A new study commissioned by French gambling regulator Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) has uncovered the scale of illegal online gambling in the country, with unlicensed online casinos estimated to generate up to €1.5 billion in gross gaming revenue (GGR) from French customers each year.
The findings highlight the need to intensify efforts to combat the black market, especially as the ANJ currently has limited powers to prevent unauthorized operators from targeting local players.
Illegal Online Gambling Worth €1.5B in France
Conducted by global consultancy firm PwC, the study gathered data from January to March 2023 and found that a total of 510 online casino sites are offering their services to French customers, with 21 of them generating 60% of the total traffic.
The black market constitutes between 5% and 11% of the overall regulated gambling market in France, with 3 million out of the 9 million French gamblers visiting unlicensed sites at least once a month. These illegal platforms are making between €748 million and €1.5 billion in annual GGR, the study found.
According to the report (in French), the majority of the 510 sites targeting France are licensed in Curacao (248), while 63 and 12 obtained their permits in Malta and Cyprus respectively. Online slots account for 54% of wagers, with roulette and craps making up just under half of all bets.
The study revealed that French customers are struggling to distinguish between legal and illegal offers, as 50% of those visiting the sites are not aware that they’re engaging with illegal platforms. More concerning is the finding that 79% of black market GGR come from “at-risk” players.
According to the study, customers can easily create an account without having to go through identity checks, which is one of the primary reasons why they are enticed to play at those sites. The potential to win big and the diverse selection of games also attract players.
EGBA Calls on France to Establish Online Casino Licensing Framework
The report acknowledged that the ANJ’s blocking orders, which have resulted in over 1,200 sites getting blocked since March 2022, have been a huge help in the fight against illegal gambling. However, it noted that the regulator has no other way to combat the illegal supply as France’s existing gambling laws do not provide the agency with “specific tools” to do that.
In light of the findings, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has called on France to establish a licensing framework for online casino gambling, saying the current prohibition is “counterproductive” and only doing more harm than good.