Ordinance n°2019-1015 (the “Ordinance”) reforming gambling regulation was adopted on 2 October 2019 and will enter into force on 1 January 2020. It amends the provisions of the Internal Security Code (CSI) and of law n°2010-476 of 12 May 2010 (the “Gambling Law”).
A reform following the privatisation of the FDJ
According to the French president a reform was necessary due to the complexity of the gambling regulation. In addition, the Government was willing to accompany and monitor the transfer of the majority of the capital of La Française des Jeux (FDJ) to the private sector, by organising Sate control over the FDJ, in particular through the presence of a Government Commissioner in the Board of Directors, the approval of directors and the establishment of specific requirements detailing FDJ's obligations.
Confirming the principle of prohibition and its derogations
The Ordinance confirms the general prohibition of gambling and its derogations, which are now gathered in a new Article L. 320-6 of the CSI. It also provides for definitions of “online gambling”, “physical distribution network” and “gambling operator” partially inspired by the 2010 Gambling law.
Creating the National Gambling Authority (Autorité Nationale des Jeux)
The Ordinance creates the Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) which takes over the powers of the Autorité de Régulation des Jeux en Ligne (ARJEL) and is also granted new powers.
The ANJ will notably retain the mission of issuing licences to online gaming and sports betting operators as currently carried out by the ARJEL. The ANJ’s scope of intervention is extended to operators holding exclusive rights (FDJ, PMU) which will have to submit each year to the ANJ’s approval their (i) gaming programme, (ii) promotional strategy and (iii) action plan for the struggle against excessive gambling and underage gambling, fraud, money laundering and terrorist financing.
In addition, the operation of any new game by the FDJ or PMU will also be subject to ANJ prior authorization - which may be suspended or withdrawn at any time. The ANJ may also require the withdrawal of any commercial communication made by the FDJ, the PMU or any liencesed online gambling and sports betting operatos containing excessive gambling incentives.
The ANJ may sanction operators holding exclusive rights - i.e. issuing warnings, suspension of the operation of specific games, withdrawal of a director‘s licence and financial penalties that may not exceed 5% of their turnover.
The Ordinance also regulates gambling operator’s commercial communications, notably by providing for an obligation to mention in any commercial communication a warning message against excessive or pathological gambling.
Several provisions also provide for the obligation for operators to prevent the participation of minors in gambling activities. In this respect, the ordinance provides for a fine of 100,000 euros for the sale or free offer of gambling services to minors.
Concerning the casino sector, the ANJ's powers will focus on the struggle against excessive gambling while other aspects will still be covered by the Ministry of the Interior.