L’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ), a gambling regulator from France, works hard to prevent illegal gambling in the country. The regulator recently warned all players about the fraud that is occurring in the industry: various illegal gambling operators use the brands of popular licensed operators to advertise their services on social media platforms, especially Facebook.
Risks for players
That way, even those looking to gamble legally can be tricked into placing illegal bets. Now, the regulator has joined forces with Meta to monitor and resolve the issue.
So far, ANJ has found about 400 illegal websites, which resulted in 137 user accounts on Facebook being blocked. The main operators that were used for illegal operations were Barrière and JOA groups. The profiles of these operators have been created and their brand image was used to attract potential customers to the illegal website. They also created mobile apps that players were led to from Facebook images.
Online casinos aren’t legalized in France. However, some operators are allowed to offer online sports betting and horse racing betting services to French players. Also, land-based casinos that have appropriate licenses are also legal.
According to ANJ, players are at huge risk due to betting on illegal sites. They risk not being paid when they win, as well as various payment frauds and the risk of stealing personal data.
The regulator commented: “If in doubt about the legality of the gambling site on which you are about to bet, consult the list of sites approved by the ANJ. You can also consult the blacklist of sites that have been administratively blocked by the ANJ. We invite anyone who notices the presence of fake advertisements to report them.”
Worth of illegal betting market
In December 2023, ANJ said that the illegal betting market in France was worth up to €1.50 billion (£1.28bn/$1.62bn), which is more than 10% higher than the wagered amount in the country on a yearly basis.
According to research conducted by ANJ, 510 illegal websites are active. About 60% of all traffic comes from 21 of them.
PwC published a study with concerning data: the gross gaming revenue illegal casinos earned is somewhere between €748m and €1.5bn, which is between 5% and 10% of total gambling in France. The record was set in 2022 when it was €12.9 billion.
“French regulator issues warning over illegal online casinos on Facebook”, igamingbusiness.com, January 31, 2023.