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ARJEL proposes legislative amendments to combat gambling addiction

30th April 2013 9:56 am GMT

France’s online gambling regulator has published a report on combating  gambling addiction which makes 33 recommendations to further protect consumers, including blocking access to affiliate websites that promote unlicensed operators, restricting advertisements, and prohibiting the use of pre-paid cards to fund gaming accounts.

The report is the first since the partial liberalization of the French online gaming market three years ago and is based on the regulator’s observations in that time, as well as the 2010 research into the prevalence of problem gambling in France, the only such research ever conducted.

According to that research, which was conducted among a sample of 25,034 French adults prior to the legalization of online gambling, 1.3 per cent of the French population showed signs of problem gambling. Players at moderate risk accounted for 0.9 per cent of the population with 0.4 per cent showing signs of excessive gambling behavior.

Among the 33 recommendations, ARJEL proposes that gambling advertising be restricted across all media, with operators allowed just one ad spot per hour on radio and television, and a limitation on the number of impressions (to be determined) that an online ad can receive within a specific time period.

ARJEL also proposes that its IP blocking powers be extended to include websites that continue to promote unlicensed gambling operators in spite of warnings from the regulator.

On the subject of funding online gaming accounts, ARJEL proposes a ban on payments using pre-paid cards. The regulator argues that the use of pre-paid cards was originally allowed because it was believed to help combat gambling addiction by “breaking the cycle of gaming” once the funds had been exhausted. In reality, however, ARJEL believes that players are increasingly using pre-paid cards to fund online gaming accounts in order to hide the transaction from banking records, or because they are unable to access conventional payment cards because of debt.

In the fourth quarter of 2012, 11 per cent of all online gaming deposits in France were made using pre-paid cards, an increase of 37 per cent year-on-year.

Other recommendations contained in the report include the establishment of a ‘Responsible Gaming Zone’ on each licensed operators website which must be accessible via one click from any web page, mobile page or software client; replacing self-limits on stakes with self-limits on time for cash games; introducing a clock on poker, live betting and horse race betting pages to indicate the time spent playing; and the introduction of online registration for self-exclusion.

It is now up to the government to decide whether to adopt ARJEL’s recommendations and make the necessary changes to legislation.

The full report from ARJEL is available for  download here (FR).

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