France Reg Flexes Delisting Muscle, Australia Adds to List of Blocked Online Casinos

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France’s gambling regulator, l’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) has issued blocking and delisting orders against online gambling sites and has created and published a public blacklist in the form of a downloadable CSV spreadsheet of illegal gambling sites while the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has ordered eight more sites to be blocked, including an advertiser as well as gambling operators.

The French blacklist can be found through a link on the government’s official announcement page (here). It includes well over 500 entries, most of which are redirects or mirrors of sites that were obviously targeting players in markets the operators were not welcome in with operators such as VegasPlus accounting for nearly 10% of the total through more than 45 unique URLs relying on various reiterations of the core name.

Obvious Attempted Circumventions

MaChance casino accounted for more than 50 iterations while Unique / WinUnique clocked nearly 50 entries.

The internal list shared with legal authorities, certain operators, and internet service providers in France has tracked 532 websites from over 150 operators since June of last year but has finally been made public, albeit in a non-user-friendly format. The list will be updated monthly according to the ANJ.

Several months before the then-nascent list was compiled, the regulator was given extraordinary powers to block or demand the blocking of gambling websites as well as the power to delist them through requests or demands delivered to search engines and other indexing databases.

Legal censorship in the name of the public good is a craft the French regulatory body is perfecting with each new development and the ANJ no longer has to wade through 4-6 months of red tape to get the job done. Now, they can simply request that ISPs (internet service providers) block the sites after a quick consultation with an administrative judge, and the marketing websites as well as any known iterations of the gambling domains can be blocked within 30-60 days.

Only about 18 online gambling websites are sanctioned by the government in France as well as internationally in French-administered jurisdictions while La Française des Jeux enjoys an exclusive monopoly on lotteries and related games throughout French law-administered governments worldwide.

Google addresses delisting thusly: “Google may temporarily or permanently remove sites from its index and search results if it believes it is obligated to do so by law; if the sites do not meet Google’s quality guidelines, or for other reasons.”

A ruling by the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court confirmed in 2011 that France’s monopoly on horse race betting was justified and legal as long as its purpose was to prevent harm to the public and was applied in a consistent manner. The case (a law allowing Pari Mutuel Urbain a monopoly on horse-race betting) set the stage for further breaks in anti-monopoly law interpretations and upset the assured competition among member states throughout Europe.

The ANJ stated on its website last Wednesday: “Indeed, when a French Internet user plays on an illegal site (for example, in France, all online casino sites are illegal, no casino license can be granted under the legal framework in force), it exposes you to multiple risks:

  • Collection of personal data;
  • Payment fraud;
  • Installation of malicious computer programs on the computer or mobile phone without the knowledge of the player;
  • Frequent non-payment of winnings;
  • Absence of any measure to prevent excessive gambling and underage gambling;
  • Total absence of legal recourse in the event of a dispute with the site.

There are no known empirical data that shows the French are any more vulnerable to those risks than players in any other jurisdiction. The government relies on code enforcement on the supply side and the statements above to dissuade French gamblers from straying from the French-approved sites. Online gamblers in France are not subject to criminal penalties.

Australia Continues Crackdown on Unlicensed Sites.

As is the case in France, gamblers in Australia are not subject to criminal penalties. However, operators that offer unlicensed services to citizens can be punished civilly and criminally if they find themselves within reach of the law. All publicly traded companies have left the market, yet private companies continue to serve the market as Australians are among the most passionate and prolific gamblers in the world.

Offering online gambling services in Australia is not actually illegal as long as an operator is licensed in a state or territory. However, none have developed a framework nor issued any licenses for casino gambling.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has issued new orders for another handful of gambling sites to be blocked by Australian ISPs from allowing residents to access the websites.

As has often been the case in the past, the order affects not only illegal operators but their promoters as well. The latest batch of names includes Casino Jax, Kosmonaut Casino, Mirax Casino, N1 Bet Casino, Rolling Slots, Slotozen, and Wild Fortune Casino as well as an affiliate website that was purportedly directly marketing to Australian players.

The regulatory body has blocked well over 700 gambling websites since the Gambling Act Amendment of 2001 was strengthened in 2017.

Source: French regulator publishes gambling website blacklist, iGaming Business, March 14, 2023

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