ANJ believes illegal market to encompass between 5% and 11% of the overall gambling market as it says it won’t hesitate to sanction legal action
French regulator l’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) has estimated the country’s online illegal gambling market could be worth between €748m (£641.5m) and €1.5bn in gross gaming revenue (GGR).
A study published by the regulator today, 4 December, found the unregulated market could have a share of between 5% to 11% of the overall gambling market in France.
The study, carried out by PwC between January and March 2023, analysed offers of online gambling accessible on the French territory through illegal websites and mobile applications.
The study found 510 illegal websites, with 21 of these sites alone generating 60% of the illegal gambling internet traffic.
Of the sites where the operator could be identified, 50% belong to operators registered in Curaçao, with Malta taking the second most and Cyprus third.
The regulator said that 50% of the traffic was generated by online casino games such as blackjack and roulette and online slots.
Online casino remains unregulated in France, with only sports betting, horseracing and poker available for licensed firms.
The ANJ said that around three million people would have played at illegal sites at least once a month in 2023 and that one in two players would not know they were playing on an illegal site.
The regulator went on to say that the main reason players choose to play at illegal sites is because these sites have no stake limits or ID verification.
Other reasons included the expectation that players would be rewarded with higher winnings and a higher volume of games on offer on these sites.
The ANJ also said that since March 2022, it had issued 300 blocking orders related to 1,230 blocked URLs.
The regulator added that should the size of the black market not shrink, it would action a series of policies in an attempt to disrupt operators.
These actions include launching criminal proceedings against individuals who are registered to operators in Cyprus and Curaçao and partner with payment service providers to blacklist illegal operators.
The ANJ will also move to strengthen public awareness of the black market, while also improving knowledge sharing with fellow European regulators.
The ANJ’s report comes six weeks after the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) estimated that in Italy the online black market is generating around €1bn in GGR per year.
This figure came after a report in the Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, which claimed €25bn per year in stakes were being placed on the Italian black market.
Through the EGBA’s own internal estimates, based on an average RTP of 95%, suggested that the Italian black market is equivalent to the regulated online GGR of eight EU member states combined.