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A new study has revealed the significant threat of the black market for casino players in France. 

It detailed that play on illegal casinos equals around €748m and €1.5bn in GGR, with as many as three million French players engaging with black market sites. 

The study, which was commissioned by the Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ), detailed that the illegal market represents between five and 10 per cent of the overall legal gambling market in France.

The study, initially scheduled for this summer, was carried out by PwC between January and March this year and identified 510 sites and 14 mobile apps as offering online casino products in France, with 21 sites understood to be capturing around 60 per cent of the traffic.

The ANJ pinpointed the key products that are being engaged with when it comes to casino games, with roulette and craps accounting for just under half of all stakes, and online slot machines recording 54 per cent of player wagers.

Discussions over online casinos and their lack of regulatory framework and legislation have taken centre stage in France in recent months, with the French government reportedly edging closer to an exclusive licence being granted to the FDJ. 

French industry sources revealed a potential agreement between the FDJ and the country’s authorities that would adjust the country’s framework and elevate the chances of it taking place. 

It is, however, a step that would likely lead to backlash from the PMU, as well as other operators seeking to expand their presence in France.

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has also emphasised its fears over the finding of the study and what this could mean for the black market. 

Although France is one of Europe’s significant gambling markets, it is one of just two EU countries which has a ban on online casino games, creating a black market with all its inherent risks, and lack ofprotections.

Maarten Haijer, Secretary General, EGBA, stated: “The scale of France’s online black market is alarming, and we believe it is one of the EU’s largest online gambling black markets, alongside Germany and Italy. The country’s prohibition of online casino is clearly a big part of the problem. 

“Given the popularity of online casino, and the need to protect consumers from the risks of the black market, it is imperative that the French authorities urgently reassess their current ban on online casino games. The ban is counterproductive and fails consumers. By regulating online casino games through a multi-licensing model, France would better protect its consumers, regain more control over its online gambling market, and secure vital tax revenues.

“The best way to tackle a black market is to establish a competitive regulated market alternative. The time to act is now.” 

CasinoBeats Breakdown: The challenge of eradicating the black market threat is a vital one in France, however, as the regulatory framework in the country becomes increasingly stringent and competition amongst casinos is diluted, the threat only grows. Regulators should take note of the latest data from the ANJ and ensure that future frameworks are most adequate to combating the unlicensed operators.