France to launch new regulatory body ahead of FDJ privatisation

4 October 2019

France has introduced new gambling regulations, including the creation of a new national gambling authority, L’autorité nationale des jeux (ANJ) to replace the current regulator, l’autorité nationale de régulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL), ahead of the privatisation of lottery monopoly La Française des Jeux (FDJ).

Currently, online gambling in France is regulated by ARJEL, while casinos, horse racing in Paris and lottery games are regulated by the Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of the Economy and Finance. Under the new regulations, ANJ will act as a single body to oversee gambling in the country.

“The National Gambling Authority (ANJ) will become the main player in the regulation of gambling in France,” the country’s Council of Ministers said. “This new independent administrative authority will be endowed with reinforced powers, over a broad scope of competences.

“In the competitive online sports betting sector, the ANJ will take over the mission of issuing the licenses to online gambling or betting operators, now exercised by ARJEL. It will see its powers of supervision strengthened: the authority will indeed be able to prescribe to an operator the withdrawal of any commercial communication inciting to play excessively.

“On the casino sector: the skills of the ANJ will focus on the fight against excessive gambling. The regulation of this activity for its other aspects, however, will continue to be the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior, because of its specificities.”

FDJ is currently owned and operated by the French government, but its shares will be sold to institutional and private investors in an initial public offering later this year. However, the Council of Ministers said the state will continue to hold a certain degree of influence over the company.

The council said the state would remain present in the company through a government commissioner present on the board alongside directors representing the state, with the power to “oppose the problematic decisions of the company,”, by issuing a notice of approval of the State to the leaders, which may be withdrawn at any time if the state no longer approves of FDJ, and by having the power to block any capital increase of more than 10% of shares.