Illegal Online Gambling: ANJ Publishes Study to Measure Illegal Offer in France and Understand Consumer Practices

To more effectively combat illegal online gambling, ANJ has commissioned a study from PwC to assess the available illegal offer in France and consumer habits. The study estimates that the Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) generated by the illegal offer would range between €748 million and €1.5 billion, accounting for 5% to 11% of the overall gambling market. The significance and risks associated with this illegal offer justify even more vigorous actions beyond those currently undertaken by ANJ.
As part of its strategy against illegal online gambling, ANJ has tasked Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) to conduct a study to determine the characteristics of this offer and practices in France. PwC had previously conducted a similar study in the UK in 2021.

Specifically, the study aimed to:

  • Measure, through quantitative analysis from January to March 2023, the illegal offer of online gambling accessible in France (illegal websites and mobile applications);
  • Gain a better understanding of consumption related to this illegal offer through a qualitative study conducted on a web panel of over 11,000 individuals.
The illegal offer considered in the study meets three criteria:

  1. A public gambling offer combining financial sacrifice, hope of gain, and an element of chance;
  2.  A gambling offer accessible in France through an internet connection with a French IP (without the use of VPN or proxy);
  3.  Lack of authorization for the operator of the website or mobile application to offer its online gambling games.

In France, only the 18 operators licensed by ANJ and the company FDJ legally offer online gambling.

  • The Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) generated by the illegal online gambling offer in France is estimated to be between €748 million and €1.5 billion, representing 5% to 11% of the overall gambling market. In comparison, the total legal gambling market in France was nearly €13 billion in 2022, with online games (sports and horse betting and poker) accounting for €2.96 billion.
  • 50% of internet traffic for illegal online gambling is generated by online casino games (such as roulette, dice games, craps, blackjack, and baccarat) and slot machines.
  • The study conducted from January to March 2023 identified 510 illegal websites that generate traffic in France. Among them, 21 sites alone contribute to 60% of the traffic of illegal online gambling.
  • 50% of identified illegal websites, whose operators could be identified, belong to companies registered in Curaçao.
  • 79% of the Gross Gaming Revenue generated by the illegal online gambling market comes from players with a risky gambling practice.

Typical Profile of a Player Engaging in Illegal Gambling

  • Approximately 3 million people would have consumed illegal gambling at least once a month in 2023.
  • 1 in 2 consumers of illegal gambling claims ignorance of the illegal nature of the platform on which they are playing.
  • Consumers of illegal gambling favor online casino games other than slot machines (54%).
  • The main motivations of consumers of illegal gambling to play on these unauthorized gambling sites are: the absence of betting limits or identity verification, the hope of larger winnings, and a richer offering of games.
  • Consumers of illegal gambling mainly become aware of these sites through online searches on search engines (19%), online advertising (18%), and social networks (18%).
  • 35% of consumers of illegal gambling would use a VPN to play on these platforms.

Necessary Diversification of Actions Against Illegal Offer

Since March 2022, ANJ has the power of administrative blocking and dereferencing of illegal sites. Administrative blocking orders are now faster and less costly. Since then, 300 administrative blocking acts covering 1,230 blocked URLs have been issued by ANJ. In a year and a half, thanks to the establishment of this procedure, ANJ has managed to block almost as many URLs as in 12 years of judicial blocking procedures.

While current laws do not provide any other specific means of action against this illegal offer, ANJ intends to quickly take various actions, including:

  • File targeted reports with the judicial authority for criminal proceedings against individuals who, registered in Curaçao or Cyprus, operate these sites currently acting with impunity and beyond ANJ's reach;
  • Take warning actions against illegal gambling software developers and companies providing hosting solutions to illicit sites;
  • Act against payment service providers enabling financial flows between illegal operators and players;
  • Deepen the exchange of information and best practices with its European counterparts within the Gambling Regulators' European Forum (GREF);
  • Strengthen public awareness of the dangers of illegal gambling.

Reminder of Risks Associated with Illegal Gambling

Playing on an illegal site poses multiple risks for players because:

  • Winnings are rarely paid: no legal action is taken against the illegal operator;
  • Minors are not protected: no age verification is often conducted;
  • Legal player protection measures are absent: self-limitation of bets, deposits, and playing time, voluntary exclusion from gambling, identification and support in case of excessive or pathological gambling;
  • Risks of identity theft and theft of banking information;
  • Risks of contributing to money laundering and terrorism financing.

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