In order to combat illegal online gambling more effectively, the ANJ (Autorité Nationale des Jeux) has commissioned Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) to carry out a study into what is available in France and consumer habits.
The study estimates that the gross gaming revenue (GGR) generated by illegal gambling is between €748 million and €1.5 billion, or between 5% and 11% of the overall gambling market. The scale and risks associated with illegal gambling justify even more vigorous action to combat it, in addition to that already being taken by the ANJ.
More specifically, the purpose of the study was:
- To measure, over the period from January to March 2023, via a quantitative analysis, the illegal online gambling available in France (illegal websites and mobile applications);
- To gain a better understanding of the consumption associated with this illegal offer, through a qualitative study carried out on a web panel of more than 11,000 people.
The illegal offer considered in the study is that which presents the following three characteristics:
- A gambling offer made to the public combining financial sacrifice, hope of winning and a share of chance ;
- A gambling offer accessible on French territory, via an internet connection giving a French IP (without using a VPN or a proxy);
- An absence of authorisation granted to the operator of the website or mobile application to offer its online gambling games.
In France, only the 18 operators licensed by the ANJ and FDJ legally offer online gambling.
Illegal gambling dominated by online casino games and slot machines and fuelled by the most vulnerable players
The gross gaming revenue (GGR) generated by illegal online gambling in France is estimated at between €748m and €1.5bn, or between 5% and 11% of the overall gambling market. As a reminder, the overall legal gambling market in France represented nearly €13bn in 2022, including €2.96bn for online gambling (sports and horse betting and poker).
Online casino games (such as roulette, dice games, craps, blackjack and baccarat) and slot machines are estimated to account for 50% of illegal online gambling Internet traffic.
The study, carried out between January and March 2023, identified 510 illegal websites generating traffic on French soil. Of these, 21 alone were estimated to generate 60% of illegal gambling traffic.
50% of the illegal gambling websites whose operators have been identified are owned by companies registered in Curaçao.
79% of the PBJ generated by the illegal online gambling market comes from high-risk gamblers.
Typical profile of illegal gamblers
Around 3 million people are estimated to have played illegal games at least once a month in 2023.
1 out of 2 illegal gamblers say they are unaware of the illegal nature of the offer they are playing on.
Illegal gamblers prefer online casino games other than slot machines (54%).
Illegal gamblers’ main reasons for playing on these unauthorised gambling sites are: the absence of wagering limits or identity checks, the expectation of higher winnings and the greater range of games on offer.
Illegal gamblers say that they first became aware of these sites through: online searches on search engines (19%), online advertising (18%) and social networks (18%).
35% of illegal gamers would use a VPN to play on these sites.
The need to diversify actions against illegal supply
Since March 2022, the ANJ has had the power to administratively block and delist illegal websites. Administrative blocking orders are now faster and less costly. Since then, the ANJ has issued 300 administrative blocking orders covering 1230 blocked URLs. In a year and a half, thanks to the introduction of this procedure, the ANJ has managed to block almost as many Urls as in 12 years of judicial blocking proceedings.
Although the law does not currently provide the ANJ with any other specific means of combating illegal offers, the ANJ intends to take a number of actions in the near future:
- Making targeted reports to the judicial authorities so that criminal proceedings can be brought against those registered in Curaçao or Cyprus who operate these sites, which currently operate with complete impunity and which the ANJ itself is unable to punish;
- Take action to warn publishers of illegal games software and companies that provide hosting solutions for illegal sites;
- Take action against payment service providers that enable financial flows between illegal operators and players;
- Deepen the exchange of information and best practices with its European counterparts within the framework of the GREF (Gambling Regulators’ European Forum);
- Increase public awareness of the dangers of illegal supply.
Reminder of the risks associated with illegal gambling
- Playing on an illegal site entails a number of risks for the player:
- Winnings are rarely paid out: no legal action is taken against the illegal operator;
- Minors are not protected: most of the time, there is no check on whether the player has reached the age of majority;
- There are no legal measures to protect players: self-limitation of bets, deposits and playing time, voluntary prohibition and self-exclusion from gambling, identification and support in the event of excessive or pathological gambling;
- Risks of identity theft and theft of bank details;
- Risks of fuelling money laundering and terrorist financing.
Tailored slots to your needs
RubyPlay’s Art Director, Douglas Hand, discusses the importance of bespoke content to help operators stand out in the crowd and offer unique experiences
Imagine walking into a store, searching for the perfect suit for an upcoming event. You can go the conventional route and pick something off-the-rack in a colour that you like. It’s readily available, functional, affordable and gets the job done. But when you turn up to the event, hundreds of others are wearing a similar suit while your rival stands there silently confident, in a custom-tailored Tom Ford suit that screams “I own this room and everyone in it”.
There’s something about a custom-tailored suit, crafted to your unique measurements and style preferences, that sets you apart in a crowd. There’s a confidence that comes from knowing how to present yourself well.
In the gaming industry this is no different. Typically, we see thousands of new slot games released worldwide each month – that results in a heavily saturated market!
Opting for generic slot games is akin to choosing an off-the-rack suit. It might get the job done, but it often results in a bland experience that blends into the vast sea of similar products. These generic games lack the personal touch; the individuality that makes them memorable. They are chasing the gap, while others are widening it.
As Don Draper said in the hit TV show Mad Men, “Success is related to standing out, not fitting in. One wants to be the needle in the haystack, not the haystack”. In the dynamic world of slot games, being the needle means going beyond the off-the-rack options, embracing creativity, and tailoring each game to leave a lasting impression.
As an experienced Art Director in a fiercely competitive industry, I understand the importance of standing out and making a statement about who you are.
At RubyPlay, we approach slot game development with the same mindset as a tailor crafting a bespoke suit. Rather than settling for a one-size-fits-all approach, our creative team invests time in learning about our clients and their unique brand. This personalised approach allows us to create games that not only meet industry standards but also resonate with the individuality of each client.
We have built robust processes honed through decades of industry experience. This not only accelerates production but also gives our creative team the freedom to explore and experiment with different styles and techniques. This balance is essential in achieving results that not only showcase our skills but also highlight the best aspects of our client’s brand.
Just as a custom, tailored suit speaks volumes about an individual, well-made slot games crafted with attention to detail and personalised touches can make a lasting impact in the gaming industry. At RubyPlay, we believe in the power of tailored experiences that go beyond the generic, and we invite operators for a custom fitting at their earliest convenience.
Solverde.pt Partners with MGA Games and Endorphina
Solverde.pt, the Portuguese bookmaker and online casino, has announced partnerships with two new game creation studios: MGA Games, a Spanish company acknowledged for the creation and distribution of casino games, and Endorphina, recognised for the recent incorporation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in slot machines.
The new partnerships mark a milestone: Solverde.pt is the first online casino in Portugal with 2500 games on a single platform.
Solverde.pt’s partnership with MGA Games, considered the Best Technology Provider at the Asocación JDigital Awards and Gaming, marks the Spanish company’s expansion into the Portuguese market. Among the games released, MGA Games has dedicated itself to integrating Portuguese entertainment personalities in its creations, like the Portuguese football player Paulo Futre, among others.
At the same time, the first batch of 25 Endorphina games is launched that will be available on the Portuguese platform, exclusively, for a month. The Game Developer established in more than 25 countries, with ten years of experience, it was the first casino game producer to create a Slot Machine entirely using AI algorithms. Among the games available, “Glory of Egypt”, “Book of Vlad”, “Dynamite Miner” and “Fisher King” stand out.
These two new partnerships, and consequent game launches, reaffirm Solverde.pt as the online casino with the largest offer of games in Portugal.
“The 2500 games on a single platform are a fundamental step for the company, which reinforces its leadership position in the sector. The collaboration with studios such as MGA Games and Endorphina allows us to lead in Portugal with an offer of innovation and excellence. Notably, MGA Games has a portfolio of 100 titles, created with HTML5 technology, that stand out for their graphical quality, and Edorphina made history by being the first company to develop a game entirely powered by AI, demonstrating its dedication to pushing the boundaries of creativity and technology,” Sérgio Pascoal, Director of R&D at Solverde.pt, said.
“The studio is confident that our slots will impress Solverde.pt players, as well as make them feel the true thrill of the game. We share a passion for entertainment and reflect that by delivering top-notch, high-value content to operators,” Javier Lanfranchi, Sales Director at MGA Games, said.
“By offering the state-of-the-art games of Endorphina, exclusively for Solverde.pt, we aim to provide a unique and exciting gaming experience that reflects both companies’ unwavering pursuit of innovation,” Jonathan Martini, Senior Sales Manager at Endorphina, said.
Ensuring Integrity: The Role of Assurance in the Gambling Industry
By Salvador Garcia-Noblejas, Senior Regulatory Assurance Services at ComplianceOne Group
The gambling industry has its origins in the ancient period, and different types of games are found in almost every culture and civilization.
Over the last few years, we have witnessed an immense transformation, clearly boosted by technological developments. Among these changes, online gambling has grown rapidly, and with this new non-face-to-face reality, regulation and regulators have also embraced new ways to protect players, businesses, and the overall economy. Regulators have the responsibility to set the framework of common rules that define what is right and wrong, the means to protect all parties, and the tools that must be used when anyone does not behave as expected.
Assurance in a world of global risks
It would be inaccurate to assume that regulatory assurance’s only goal is to ensure that operators operate in a fair and transparent manner and meet their legal obligations. On the contrary, assurance also includes helping businesses understand the risks involved in the industry where they operate, analysing their strengths and weaknesses, and setting measures to mitigate those risks.
Assurance’s starting point consists of an interview phase where tailor-made questionnaires serve better understanding the reality to each operator and its actual circumstances. Once the assurance assessment is complete, a detailed action plan assists the operator in fixing any identified gaps, improving policies and procedures, and obtaining the maximum financial gain from refining their processes, products, and operations.
As part of the fast transformation of the gambling industry, with competitive new products, platforms, advertisements, and market expansion, we must not forget that bad actors and illegal practices also develop. This is the moment to ask ourselves if we are ready to face whatever can harm our operations. The most efficient way to know is carrying out a thorough audit of policies, procedures, and processes. This approach will certainly save operators from potential harm to their clients, products, brands, and finances.
Regulators focus on legislation, supervision, and enforcement. All stakeholders must comply with gambling regulations if they want to offer products and services or provide a safe environment to their clients. An important part of the gambling legal system is the fact that the industry is continuously overseen to ensure that all actors adhere to the established rules. At this point, operators need to ask themselves how ready they are to show sufficient evidence that their operations adhere to the law.
Smart operators will choose to comply with as many rules and regulations as their business is capable of, and they will ensure that records are properly kept. Company leadership is essential in ensuring compliance as it contributes to collaboration between departments and having policies and procedures that make the business run within the parameters of the legislation.
In recent years, some highly publicized enforcement actions, including fines and penalties, license suspension, and revocation, have alerted the whole gambling industry. From such cases, there have been increasing efforts in reviewing processes, improving systems, and growing compliance departments.
Experience in the gambling industry has taught us that it is crucial to have a detailed understanding of the regulations that govern the relationship between operators and players. Where knowledge has been insufficient, inaccurate, or out of date, some business decisions have led to unwanted consequences, sometimes catastrophic ones.
Knowledge, a solid compliance culture, strong procedures, and willingness are the formula to be ready for a regulatory audit.
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