The Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ), the French gambling regulator, has issued a warning to consumers about illegal gambling websites that are using the brand of licensed operators to promote their services on Facebook. The ANJ has reported that it is aware of several illegal operators using this method to deceive players into gambling on their sites. The regulator is working closely with Facebook to monitor the situation and has already reported around 400 website URLs to Meta, resulting in the closure of 137 user accounts on the social network.

The main licensees being targeted by these illegal sites are the Barrière and JOA groups. Individuals are creating fake promotional images using the brands owned by these approved operators to entice players to their unlicensed sites. These images often include links to false download pages for mobile apps supposedly from the licensed operators, but instead lead players to the illegal websites.

It is important to note that online casino gambling is currently not legal in France. While internet sports wagering and horse racing betting are legal through approved operators, and licensed land-based casinos are also legal, online casino gambling remains illegal. ANJ has highlighted the risks for players who gamble on unlicensed sites, including not being paid winnings, payment fraud, having personal data stolen, and no protection in the event of a dispute.

ANJ recommends that consumers consult the list of sites approved by the ANJ and the blacklist of sites that have been administratively blocked by the ANJ if they have any doubts about the legality of a gambling site. They also encourage individuals to report any fake advertisements they come across.

This warning comes after ANJ previously stated that France’s illegal gambling market could be worth up to €1.50 billion, accounting for more than 10% of the total amount wagered across the country each year. Research conducted by ANJ identified 510 illegal websites generating traffic, with 21 of them alone producing 60% of illegal gambling traffic. Moreover, a study by PwC estimated that the gross gaming revenue generated by illegal gambling ranges from €748 million to €1.50 billion, making up between 5% and 11% of the total gambling market valued at a record €12.9 billion in 2022.

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