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France Blocks Influencers and Athletes From Gambling Promotion, Threatens Jailtime for Violators

France Blocks Influencers and Athletes From Gambling Promotion, Threatens Jailtime for Violators

Initiatives to tame the “jungle” of gambling promotion by social media influencers, athletes and others in France have achieved their respective goals. Both the French government and the gaming regulator have introduced new policies that could result in arrests for those who break the rules.

A session of the French Senate, with Gérard Larcher in the center
A session of the French Senate, with Gérard Larcher in the center. The chamber passed a measure the National Assembly approved a day earlier to curb gambling promotions by social media influencers. (Image: Getty Images)

The French Parliament has taken an important step by approving a new law that establishes rules and requirements for influencers. With this legislation, the government seeks to prevent the commercial promotion of certain products and practices.

At the same time, the National Gaming Authority (ANJ, for its French acronym) has issued guidelines aimed at supervising the sports partnership of legal gambling operators. The goal of the new framework is to prevent gambling addiction, protect minors and push illegal operators out of the country.

Influencers Put On Notice

The new law will regulate the activity of some influencers who promote dubious products or activities, not just gambling. There has been an increase in the marketing of frauds and scams, as well as dangerous health remedies and tobacco products, that France wants to eliminate.

The National Assembly approved the legislation on Wednesday, followed by the Senate on Thursday. It defines influencers as “individuals or legal entities, who, through payment, mobilize their notoriety before their audience to communicate to the public content electronically with the aim of promoting, directly or indirectly, goods, services or a cause.”

In addition, the European country has forced the almost 150,000 influencers in its territory to report whether their content is advertising or commercial collaboration. This, according to the parliament, will help consumers to know the type of content they consume.

The legislation specifically states that influencers can no longer promote sports betting or gambling. This type of advertising can only be done by entities that have the technical means to prevent minors from accessing the content.

To emphasize the seriousness of the new laws, France made it clear that violators face definite prosecution. Any influencer who breaks the law faces fines up to €300,000 (US$322,000) and up to two years in jail.

Even if the influencer lives outside of France, he or she is still responsible for complying with the new laws. How the government plans to enforce the rules in these cases has yet to be determined.

The country could get some help in that regard. Regulating the influencer industry marks a first for Europe and France hopes other countries will follow suit. If they do, there could be a new global framework of influencer police, similar to INTERPOL.

ANJ Recommendations Aren’t Just Suggestions

The ANJ has presented its updated guidelines almost simultaneously with the new arrival of the new laws. While it acknowledges that the guidelines are just recommendations, non-compliance when the policies take effect next year could lead to regulatory or legal issues.

Using athletes to promote gambling operators is no longer allowed. This is similar to policies other countries are introducing and follows a larger initiative to segregate sports and gambling.

To prevent excessive gambling, the ANJ recommends that sports organizations not put on their websites, applications and platforms any type of link that redirects to a betting platform. It also wants them to avoid the displaying of odds, offers of bonuses or promotional announcements for gambling operators. As for the brands of these operators, they should only appear “in a limited way in and around” sports venues.

The regulator also recommends that organizers of any activity related to sports check with it before signing any marketing or branding agreements with gambling or betting companies. The goal is to ensure that only licensed operators in France are promoted.

In order to protect minors, the ANJ recommends sports clubs not include gambling partner logos on merchandise, such as jerseys, marketed for children. In addition, they shouldn’t use pictograms in their marketing material.

The changes, according to the regulator, come following an extensive study into the relationship between sports and gambling. It’s convinced the reforms won’t have a huge impact on the sports industry, stating that it draws less than 2% of its direct revenue from the gambling market.

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