Advertising and gambling: the ANJ presents its guidelines and recommendations
The public consultation on advertising and gambling launched by the National Gambling Authority following the Euro football tournament has resulted in numerous contributions from various stakeholders. Based on these, as well as objective elements from two studies, the ANJ presents guidelines aimed at clarifying its interpretation of the existing rules on the content of commercial communications. It also provides recommendations to limit the intensity of advertising pressure on all media channels, including digital platforms, and to strengthen the protection of minors and vulnerable audiences.
During the Euro football tournament held in June and July 2021, unprecedented advertising pressure from sports betting operators was observed. However, in France, gambling is not considered as an ordinary service because it carries significant risks of abuse (over-indebtedness) or public health risks (addiction and isolation) for the player and those close to him. This is why it is only authorised by way of derogation and is subject to strict supervision.
It is in this context that the ANJ has conducted, from September 2021, a broad public consultation on the advertising practices of gambling operators.
This consultation has made it possible to gather numerous and extensive contributions from stakeholders (general public, licensed and monopoly gambling operators, healthcare professionals, healthcare associations, professional sports federations and leagues, advertising professionals, educational community, etc.).
Two studies were also commissioned to objectively measure the situation: the first on the influence of advertising on gambling behaviour, conducted by Harris interactive, and the second on gambler’s media consumption, conducted by Kantar.
Findings and priority objectives for the regulator
The ANJ draws the following conclusions from the consultation:
- the first half of 2021 will see an unprecedented increase in advertising pressure, particularly regarding sports betting communications;
- gambling advertising has a potentially significant impact on the most vulnerable audiences (young players, problem gamblers);
- gambling operators are increasingly using various digital tools, which are particularly popular with young people and are largely unregulated;
- prevention messages are not visible enough;
These findings do not cover the commercial communications regarding casinos and gambling clubs.
Based on these findings, the ANJ is pursuing several objectives:
- to "de-intensify" advertising pressure on all communication media (television, radio, poster campaign and digital);
- to reinforce the protection of minors and at-risk audiences, particularly on digital platforms;
- to improve the effectiveness of prevention measures.
The regulatory tools proposed by the ANJ
To meet these objectives, the ANJ has developed two tools, in line with the reference framework for the prevention of excessive or pathological gambling and the protection of minors adopted by order of the Minister of Health on April 9, 2021: guidelines and recommendations.
1. Guidelines, which provide elements for interpreting the decree of November 4, 2020 governing the content of commercial communications. In these guidelines, the ANJ reaffirms the primary purpose of gambling advertising, i.e., the possibility for operators to inform the public of their offer in order to distinguish it from the (prohibited) offer of illegal operators. On this occasion, the ANJ is committed to a strict reading of the legislative and regulatory provisions in force in order to support the objective of preventing excessive gambling and protecting minors that these provisions pursue. In the event of a breach of these rules, the ANJ may ask the gambling operator to withdraw the commercial communication in question and, if necessary, initiate proceedings before its sanctions committee.
These guidelines cover:
- the content of communications that are prohibited because they may encourage excessive gambling: communications banalizing gambling, those containing unsubstantial claims about the chances of winning or equating gambling with a change in social status or an alternative to paid work, etc. ;
- content prohibited because it could encourage minors to gamble: prohibition of advertisements featuring a minor, which would encourage minors to consider gambling as a natural part of their leisure time, or those depicting personalities from the world of minors, etc.
The ANJ's interpretation of the rule prohibiting advertisements implying that "gambling contributes to social success”
According to the ANJ, representations of:
- social success understood as financial success, romantic or sexual success, fame, power, respect, admiration of others or a sign of maturity;
- external signs of wealth or luxury goods (sports cars, dream villas);
- the possibility of changing social status, having extraordinary experiences (space travel) or having access to services usually considered to be reserved for very rich people (private jet travel or luxury yacht cruise).
2. Non-prescriptive recommendations, corresponding to good practices that operators are encouraged to implement in order to improve their public protection standards. The recommendations aim to limit the pressure of advertising messages on each media channel, to encourage responsible practices by influencers and ambassadors, to reinforce the protection of minors and excessive gamblers and, finally, to improve prevention messages.
Examples of recommendations
- On television and radio, limit advertising to 3 communications per advertising screen, all operators combined. In the digital advertising sector, limit players' exposure to 3 commercial communications per day and per medium (e.g. website, application, social network, platform, search engine);
- Implementation of an "advertising moderator" that allows players to easily choose the number, frequency and type of notifications that can be sent to them when they connect to the operator's website or app;
- Use of ambassadors and influencers who are over 18 years of age, who do not have a physical appearance that suggests they are underage, and who do not have an audience that is more than 16% underage;
- Standardisation of prevention messages to improve their visibility.
The implementation mechanism
The implementation of these recommendations involves various actions, some of which will rely on enhanced cooperation with the ARPP (Autorité de régulation professionnelle de la publicité) and the ARCOM (Autorité de régulation de la communication audiovisuelle):
- The revision of the ARCOM’s deliberation of January 22, 2013 on the conditions for broadcasting commercial communications in favour of gambling operators on the one hand, and the revision of the "good conduct" charters concluded in 2011 by television and radio advertising agencies aiming to control the volume and concentration of commercial communications in favour of gambling operators on the other hand;
- The updating of the ARPP's "gambling and chance" recommendation of June 2009;
- The drafting of a charter of good conduct with the gambling operators aimed at regulating the digital advertising conducted by them: to better regulate the volumes and frequency of commercial communications in favour of gambling and to reinforce the protection of young people on these supports;
- The creation of a working group on the changes to be made to the framework of sponsorships and partnerships, placed under the supervision of the ANJ and the Ministry of Sports.
The complete system should be operational on September 1, 2022, before the FIFA World Cup in November-December 2022, which will be the highlight of the market.
Finally, a monitoring committee, bringing together the stakeholders, will be set up to evaluate the implementation of the regulatory tools and propose, if necessary, to adapt them.