New French Regulatory Strategy Aims to Prevent Gambling Harm

France’s gambling regulator, Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ), has unveiled its strategic plan for the years 2024-2026, with a focus on reducing excessive gambling and the associated social harm. Three years after its formation, ANJ has fully embraced its role, closely monitoring the market to ensure licensed operators remain in compliance.

The first phase of regulation under ANJ’s authority ended in 2023, revealing a thriving gambling market with over €13 billion ($14.1 billion) in turnover, representing a growth of over 50% since the market opened in 2011. While gambling has become a widespread consumer product for people of all ages and backgrounds, it also poses risks that require the implementation of restrictive regulatory policies.

Despite progress by gaming operators in player protection, the prevalence of problem gambling remains significant. ANJ acknowledges that in 2019, around 1.4 million players were at risk, with nearly 400,000 classified as pathological gamblers. Problem gambling accounts for more than 38% of the sector’s turnover, with 21% attributed to excessive gamblers alone.

The country is also dealing with black market operators exploiting unwary players due to the lack of regulated iGaming. ANJ estimated that the illegal online gambling sector in France was between 5% and 11%, and vowed to take action against this rising threat. The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has urged France to regulate iGaming as the only way to solve this problem.

ANJ’s new strategic plan focuses on three key pillars: drastically reducing excessive gambling, fighting against illegal gambling, and strengthening the economic dimension of regulation. The success of the plan relies on sufficient scientific knowledge of the market and gaming practices, along with dialogue and cooperation with other stakeholders and regulatory bodies.

ANJ President Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin emphasized the importance of collaboration for achieving the regulator’s 2026 goals, stating, “Reducing the number of excessive gamblers and strengthening the protection of minors…can only be achieved if all stakeholders join forces alongside the regulator.”

The strategic plan represents a critical juncture for the French gambling market, aiming to balance openness and protection while addressing social challenges associated with excessive gambling. Despite the country’s many gambling-related challenges, the regulator’s confident approach raises high hopes for the coming years.