Regulating/Investigating Remote Gambling - IAGR Annual Conference Lima 14 October 2015

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1 Regulating/Investigating Remote Gambling - IAGR Annual Conference Lima 14 October 2015

2 Introduction ARJEL is a new member of this association since July 2015 and I am pleased and honoured to have the opportunity to present my views on the levers a regulatory body can use. To do so, I will take the example of the French model. 2

3 The French regulatory framework : a dispatched institutional landscape - 2 historical monopolies (FDJ PMU) - lotteries - offline sports betting and horse-racing betting - Land-based casinos spread on the national territory - Online gambling recently opened up to competition (in 2010) in a limited scope: online sports betting, online horse racing betting and online poker - Various stakeholders with different powers/competencies and engagement levels each, often unclear for the players - Current situation originated in history and in the cultural dimension of gambling in France. 3

4 The regulator s action logs in a frame drafted by the legislator - The regulator can, with its own means, develop a regulatory policy. Nevertheless, the frame of its action remains delimited by the legislator. - The levers at its disposal but also the limits constraining are settled by Law. - We shall first see the levers, then the limits and the possibilities to overstep them. 4

5 I. The levers provided for by the Law to act - The aims of gambling policy have been clearly expressed in Law dated 2010 in the form of 3 objectives which apply to all gambling sectors (online/offline ; monopoly/competition): - Player protection - Fairness of the gambling operations - Public order issues - ARJEL makes of these objectives the levers of its action aiming at framing online gambling specific risks. 5

6 I.1 First lever : player protection (1) - Permanent accessibility which characterizes online gambling increases gambling frequency and excessive or pathological gambling risks. - The legislator chose to limit authorized offer (to 3 types of games) therefore assuming the correlative risk related to illegal offer. - Authorizing a wide offer scope online is often invoked as a remedy to lower the audience of illegal offer: it is said that it would channel the existing demand towards legal offer. - Two considerations nevertheless oppose this argument: - As a result of the very nature of illegal offer, which is by principle not controlled, that no reliable assessment method thereof exists; - Opening widely the authorized offer exposes populations to games towards which they culturally may have not turned to: such opening corresponds to a bet on the nature of the demand. 6

7 I.1 First lever : player protection (2) - ARJEL chose to use all online potentialities in order to implement adequate protection measures: game and time limits, exclusions and self-exclusions, implementation of a monitoring device of risky gambling behaviors, - The results of such a policy are encouraging : large stability of addicted players since Protection of personal data: testing software vulnerabilities in the course of certification (homologation in the French model) namely aims at ensuring players personal data protection 7

8 I.2 Second lever: fraud prevention - The objective given by the legislator to fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism enabled the regulator to develop means of action. - A technical regulation based on Big Data and collecting real-time all gambling data gives the French model an intervention power and a possibility to react efficiently: - Following the funds 'movements enables to control financial flux and to prevent money-laundering - Gambling data analysis enables to detect collusion between players 8

9 I.3 Third lever: gambling operations fairness, the example of sports betting - The primary liability in the field of prevention of manipulations lays with the sports movement - The regulator s mission is to protect the bettors from the risks linked to manipulations of sports competitions - ARJEL has developed a specific device based on two components: - The list of sport competitions on which bets can be placed is defined in concertation with sports organizations according to several selection criteria arising from the general idea that the cost of the manipulation shall remain higher than the expected gain. INTERPOL expertise could be useful at that stage; - Real-time stakes monitoring and irregular sports betting detection. We have developed a cooperation with the land-based monopoly. 9

10 II. Limits to the regulator's action and necessary adaptations Some choices of the legislator based on the precautionary principle may be constitutive of weaknesses that need to be overstepped. What I present here is not positive law but are elements which are parts of ARJEL s discussion with the authorities and reflects its wishes for an evolution of the regulation. - Limited gambling offer restricting the attractiveness of the regulated offer from the players point of view; - Distinction between offline and online; - High market entry-costs for operators and a heavy taxation based on stakes. 10

11 Work on the attractiveness of the regulated offer - The choice of an opening up to competition restricted to 3 games limits the attractiveness of the regulated offer and enhances illegal offer. - For the regulator, the challenge is double: - Strenghten the fight against illegal offer, source of unfair competition, through an action in all fields; - Enhance the attractiveness of the offer by authorizing new games while not jeopardizing the good results of addiction prevention and the effectiveness of the fight against fraud. E.g.: the project on which we have worked to be able to open European liquidity for poker. 11

12 Improve the economical environment of the market - The French regulated market situation is preoccupying: few operators (17) and still too much not achieving financial balance. - Review directions considered: - Reduce regulatory costs for operators while guarantying a high level of security and control. This is clearly in the hand of the regulator; - Lighten up the taxation pressure while changing the tax base, from stakes to GGR. This is up to the legislator who may listen to the arguments but may have other priorities/points of view than the regulator. We touch here a limit of the regulator s action. 12

13 Review the distinction between offline and online - Although historically justified, this distinction does not correspond to the market reality any more and limits the regulatory action. - Here again, this is ARJEL analysis. - Whatever organization is chosen by the legislator, a better coordination of national regulatory authorities is needed to ensure proper player protection: - because of the convergence of networks and offers - because the players gamble on different networks. 13

14 To conclude, some general considerations in order to anticipate on the evolutions - Distinction gaming/gambling which determines the scope of regulation is wearing off. The gaming universe will enter gambling and the financial sacrifice as well as the hope for a gain exist in gaming - Transition from free to play to pay to play and to pay to win. - The effects are the same in terms of addiction but gaming is not regulated and low-taxed. - Types of games themselves evolve so that repartition criteria according to regulation models become inoperative (slot machines/scratch games). What is determining is the game frequency and the management of hopes for gain. 14

15 and on the regulator s profession - Exercising the regulator s profession and the necessary balance which grounds its intervention tend to become more complex - Priorities of the political power are often in contradiction with its proposals and it has difficulties to convince; - The rhythm of the changes on the regulated scope would need a model able to adapt real-time, therefore an autonomy of intervention which the political power is not quite ready to give the regulator. - while gambling activity intensifies and its cross-border nature gives to the regulator s action a more and more strategic place and a more and more central responsibility. 15

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