Three years after its establishment and the introduction of the new gambling regulation, the ANJ is presenting its strategic plan for 2024-2026. The reduction of excessive gambling and the social damages it causes, as well as the protection of minors, are at the heart of its actions. To achieve this ambitious objective, which reflects a problem that is no longer individual but social, the ANJ is calling on all economic and institutional players concerned to work alongside it.
The first cycle of regulation under the aegis of the French Gambling Authority (ANJ) ended in 2023 with the observation that the gambling market was booming, with revenues of more than €13 billion, representing an increase of more than 50% since the opening of the market in 2011. Over the years, gambling has become a mainstream consumer product for people of all ages and from all walks of life: more than half of all French people now gamble, spending more than €55 billion each year. Gambling is at the heart of our societies, and this phenomenon can be observed in every European country.
However, gambling is not a product like any other, and it is the risks inherent in this activity that have justified the government’s implementation of a restrictive regulatory policy, which translates into a legal objective of limiting and supervising the supply and consumption of gambling. In 2019, the public authorities wanted to strengthen player protection and the ANJ was created with this objective in mind.
Although gambling operators have made significant progress in this area over the past three years, problem gambling still plays too large a role in the gambling market. In 2019, the Gambling Observatory estimated the number of at-risk gamblers at 1.4 million, including almost 400,000 at pathological level. In total, problem gambling accounts for more than 38% of the sector’s turnover and excessive gambling alone for 21%. These figures, which are due to be updated shortly, illustrate the reality of a social problem, particularly for young people, with collateral damage in the gambler’s in the gambler’s immediate environment: excessive debt, family problems, difficulties at school, etc.
In this context, the ANJ has been working with all stakeholders to define the new regulatory guidelines for the period 2024-2026. These place the protection of minors and the reduction of excessive gambling and the social damage it causes at the centre of the regulator’s activities, like a common thread that inspires all its actions.
The ANJ’s new roadmap is based on three fundamental pillars:
- The first of these pillars, which reflects the public health implications of regulation, aims to drastically reduce the proportion and number of excessive gamblers in the gambling market. This key objective for the ANJ will require major efforts on the part of operators. It cannot be achieved without a coherent and balanced regulatory policy aimed at consolidating the French gambling market model.
- At the same time, this requires the ANJ to continue its efforts to preserve the transparency and integrity of the sector, with the fight against illegal gambling at the forefront (second pillar), and to strengthen the economic dimension of regulation in order to gain a better understanding of market balances and provide solutions to the changes it is facing today (third pillar).
Finally, the strategic plan is based on three foundations that are the conditions for the success of its ambition: to make scientific knowledge of the market and gambling practices the compass of regulation; to embody, at national and European level, regulation based on dialogue and cooperation to drive the repositioning of the market; and finally, to position the ANJ as a laboratory for bold, effective and exemplary public action.
This is a critical time for the French gambling market: it can both destabilise and strengthen the French model. This strategic plan should help to strengthen the French regulatory model as an acceptable compromise between openness and protection.
Isabelle FALQUE-PIERROTIN, President of the ANJ, said: “After three years in office, we now believe that the regulation of gambling must take a turn that involves the market gradually moving towards a less intensive model. This voluntary target to reduce the number of excessive gamblers and to strengthen the protection of minors will be monitored over a period of 3 years and adjusted in line with monitoring indicators and prevalence studies. It can only be achieved if all the players join forces alongside the regulator to move the goalposts: gambling operators, public authorities, institutions, associations, etc. “
Cyprus National Betting Authority Launches National Self-Exclusion Platform
The Cyprus National Betting Authority during a press conference on February 20, 2024, announced the launch of the National Self-Exclusion Platform (NSEP). This strategic initiative is part of the Authority’s commitment of safeguarding players and the public, as outlined in its Safer Gambling Strategy 2022-25.
The NSEP facilitates players to control their betting activities and opt for self-exclusion, either temporarily or indefinitely, from all online bookmakers who are licensed in the Republic of Cyprus. The player acknowledges that their betting activity has brought gambling related harm on their life, hence, they may use the self-exclusion tool for a more effective control of their betting activity. During the self-exclusion period, the player has access to their current account only for the purpose of withdrawing their deposits and cannot create a new account in a licenced bookmaker’s website.
Registration on the platform is free, simple and straightforward, enabling the player to set their self-exclusion across all betting service providers by registering at https://www.exclusion.cy/. Specifically, players have the flexibility to choose between temporary self-exclusion, long period self-exclusion or for an indefinite time.
During the press conference, Ms. Ioanna Fiakkou, President of the NBA, expressed her satisfaction with the platform’s launch, underscoring its significance as “a robust tool for every player, designed to promote safer betting behaviour and safeguarding vulnerable groups of people.”
“The development of the National Self-Exclusion Platform underscores the NBA’s dedication to player protection and the establishment of a sustainable and fair betting sector. The platform at this point offers self-exclusion from online betting service providers, but its operation is dynamic and poised to integrate additional functionalities. Thus, we extend a public invitation to all stakeholders to join our efforts for safeguarding society and include specific groups such as athletes in the platform’s operations, in collaboration with relevant federations and governmental bodies, to join the platform. Through this collaborative effort, we aim to fortify the fight against match-fixing and enhance transparency in sports, aligning with key objectives outlined in the Authority’s strategic framework. We are particularly satisfied to witness the realization of another significant milestone, as we advance towards achieving the goals set forth in the Safer Gambling Strategy, reinforcing protective measures for the public and fostering the industry’s sustainability in the right direction,” Ms. Fiakkou said.
Aruze Gaming Secures Approvals from 14 Tribal Entities Across the US
Aruze Gaming Global (AG2) announced that it has secured approvals from 14 tribal entities in the US and has obtained licenses from the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, South Dakota, the West Virginia Lottery, and the Wisconsin Division of Gaming.
This accomplishment marks a substantial expansion for AG2, solidifying its commitment to providing cutting-edge gaming solutions with the highest standards of regulatory compliance. The 14 tribal approvals underscore the company’s dedication to fostering strong relationships with indigenous communities while ensuring responsible and transparent gaming practices.
In Louisiana, AG2 has received a coveted license from the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, allowing the company to contribute to the state’s vibrant gaming landscape. The approval from the West Virginia Lottery and South Dakota positions AG2 as a key player in the region, while the certification from the Wisconsin Division of Gaming opens doors to new opportunities in the state.
“We are thrilled to have received approvals from 14 tribal entities and additional state licenses in Louisiana, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. This achievement reflects our commitment to regulatory excellence and our dedication to providing top-tier gaming experiences. We look forward to contributing to the gaming industry in these regions and building lasting relationships with our esteemed customers,” Kelcey Allison, Global Chief Operating Officer at AG2, said.
NIGC Announces Departure of Chairman E. Sequoyah Simermeyer
The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) announced the resignation of E. Sequoyah Simermeyer, as the chairman of NIGC, effective Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024.
Simermeyer, confirmed by the U.S. Senate in November 2019, led the Agency through unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic. During this time, the Agency helped set the regulatory conditions for a multi-year, post-pandemic recovery, where Indian gaming gross revenues rose to a record $40.9B last year. Prior to his tenure as chairman, Simermeyer served with NIGC as associate commissioner and director of the Office of Self-Regulation since 2015.
Reflecting on his time at the Agency, Simermeyer said, “I’ve witnessed firsthand how tribes across the Indian gaming industry have pursued economic sustainability through gaming by relying on – and cultivating – the robust regulatory reputation for which Indian gaming is well known, and made better when supported by effective and efficient measures by Indian gaming’s regulators. I’m proud of the integral part this Agency has played in meeting the challenges of an evolving industry, and encouraged that NIGC’s strong cadre of professionals will continue to work hand-in-hand with gaming operations to ensure tribal gaming remains primarily for the benefit of its citizens as the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) mandated 35 years ago.”
From day one, Simermeyer established industry integrity, preparedness, outreach, and Agency accountability as strategic goals for the Agency, leading NIGC through a period of growth and expansion of programs and services available to gaming tribes.
Under Simermeyer’s leadership, the Agency took steps to grow its capacity to provide outreach, training and technical assistance to gaming tribes, notably formalizing its Environmental Public Health and Safely (EPHS) program to assist tribes with overall operational preparedness, and expanding the Agency’s ability to provide cybersecurity technical assistance as the industry faced emerging threats from cybercrimes, including NIGC’s first Chief Information Security Officer. His “3 for 35” campaign for workforce preparedness, aimed at building regulatory capacity to future-proof tribal gaming, was also an Agency signature outreach effort during his tenure.
NIGC’s efficient and effective approach to regulation was driven by its formalized, collaborative tribal consultation process, where over the past three years, the Agency published eight final rules to keep pace with changing regulatory conditions and industry best practices, while allowing tribes the maximum flexibility allowed under IGRA to pursue efficiencies intended to help operations grow and thrive. To further strengthen its compliance and oversight functions, the Agency also rolled out the “Report a Violation” tool on its website to allow for reporting suspected IGRA violations. NIGC also provided important clarity in the wake of industry-wide questions arising from emerging topics such as significant court decisions on sports betting, the impact of cannabis on licensing and the use of gaming revenue, and the independence of tribal gaming regulatory bodies.
Simermeyer also positioned the Agency as a lead collaborator with federal agencies and organizations similarly dedicated to the success of tribal gaming. NIGC’s annual multiagency Cybersecurity Symposium, Anti-Money Laundering/Banking Security Act (Title 31) regulatory training conference and ongoing partnership with the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign to prevent human trafficking, are all examples. He also led the Agency to pursue memoranda of understanding with federal agencies like the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, to promote a shared interest in researching the impacts of lending to tribes engaged in gaming and facilitating tribal access to capital.
Focusing on Agency operations, Simermeyer led the Agency through a multi-year IT security modernization plan to improve NIGC’s internal cybersecurity and resilience. Additionally, he transformed the Agency’s Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) Audit program to better align with FBI requirements. As another step towards transparency and accountability, the Agency reimagined its fiscal annual report to better tell the story of its commitment to preserve and protect Indian gaming under IGRA, and the stories of the employees behind it. Perhaps most important, under Simermeyer’s leadership, the Agency achieved a 91% employee satisfaction rating on the 2023 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS), making the NIGC one of the best places to work in the federal government.
On transitioning to the next stage of his career, Simermeyer is grateful for his nearly nine years with the Agency. “My time with NIGC has been some of the most memorable and impactful years of my career. As a Native person, I’m truly blessed to have been surrounded by experts dedicated to protecting and preserving the valuable resource Indian gaming represents for our communities. I’m thankful for the advice and counsel of my fellow commissioners and NIGC staff, and the support and hard work of the nearly 5,000 tribal regulators who work alongside NIGC day-in and day-out to keep Indian gaming strong now, and for the next 35 years,” said Simermeyer.
Additional details regarding the transition will be forthcoming.
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