A series of new rules and recommendations on bonuses have been announced by France’s gambling regulators. The new rules on transparency are good, and other markets would benefit from requiring operators to make the terms surrounding bonuses clear. The ban on sending bonuses to “excessive” gamblers is clearly well-intentioned, but likely too vague to be implemented.
New rules and recommendations on bonuses were announced by France yesterday. The contents of the regulations published by the ANJ are interesting, but there may be more to think about.
The new rules on transparency are good, and other markets would benefit from requiring operators to make the terms surrounding bonuses clear.
The ban on sending bonuses to excessive gamblers is clearly well-intentioned, but likely too vague to be implemented in the way that is hoped.
The non-binding recommendations are difficult to judge without knowing how motivated operators would be to implement them.
Operators looking in from outside of France may be interested in the timing, which was noted by the regulator.
The World Cup is about to start
It was important for the rules to be implemented before the World Cup. The ANJ implemented new rules for ads because of the backlash against the French sector over advertising at Euro 2020.
Ahead of the World Cup, the ANJ cracked down on bonuses because they were afraid of a backlash if they did not.
France is not likely to be alone in this area.
Soon after the end of the World Cup, a ban on untargeted gambling ads will come into effect in the Netherlands.
That would mean a last chance for operators to try and get customers.
Knowing how anti-industry campaigners and MPs have acted in that country, they would want to see operators limit ads.
Things may finally look up in Sweden as a new government takes charge, seemingly with more sympathy towards the industry and a willingness to reform bonus laws, as France did with its new bonus rules.
The sector may have a chance for reprieve, but the backlash from the World Cup could change that.
The Gambling Act review may be pushed back further by the recent changes in who takes the lead on reform, after Damian Collins stepped down as Gambling Minister. The Gambling Act white paper might not be published until after the World Cup is over. As the public learns of the once-in-a- generation reforms under consideration by the government, the event may be front-of-mind.
One approach and another approach
There are two ways to think about this. An argument could be made that the industry should be on its best behavior during the event. There will be consequences if there are any slip-ups.
The other argument is that those opposed to the industry will simply look for perceived slip-ups and try to manufacture controversy if the industry is on its best behavior. If it is true, the industry can’t do anything about it, but it might as well continue on the same path as before.
It is an oversimplification to simply present two polarised options.
While anti-industry groups and legislators wield a lot of influence, the public and governments will not simply follow their will.
It’s inevitable that there will be opposition to the sector, but that doesn’t mean it won’t think about negative publicity.
It is important for the industry to avoid giving easy fodder for a campaign during the World Cup, but it is also important for it to know that it is likely going to face more than one campaign during the World Cup.
It would be foolish to think that the sector would be universally praised or that the critics would be quieter if it shows that it can market ethically during the World Cup.
It might have a chance to show that many opposed to the industry will never be satisfied if the industry has been responsible without relenting.
If you have made it this far through a column on the World Cup, you can expect a worn-out football analogy, so here we go. It is not possible for the industry to give an open net to its biggest critics. As those critics push forward, the sector might have an opportunity to counter-attack.