France proposes new RG messaging requirements for adverts

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At the centre of the draft decree is the requirement for all ads to feature a warning message about excessive or pathological gambling with playing online. 

This message, the decree said, should also feature information about the help available to people suffering from gambling-related harm. These include Joueur Info, which is accessible online and by phone.

The decree also sets out how messages should cover at least 15% of an online advert to ensure proper readability. This band is set lower at 7% for cinema and poster adverts. 

Online adverts should also include a five-second “packshot” displaying the message at the end of the video. Consumers would not be able to skip this part of the advert.

It was also stated messaging should appear in black writing on a yellow background to make it more visible.

The deadline for integrating messaging into online advertisements would be set at 30 days after implementation of the rules.

Useful message

The decree also referred to factors that had led to the proposal. These included a study by the French Public Health Agency that found 73% of gamblers considered the prevention messages in adverts to be a useful warning of gambling addiction.

The draft also referenced how the number of moderate-risk gamblers between 2014 and 2019 stabilised at approximately one million. However, the amount of people experiencing excessive problems increased significantly, from 200,000 in 2014 to 370,000.

“Surveys have shown that the previous health messages on advertisements have become less effective and need to be adapted in their content and manner of display to the new modes of advertising,” the decree said.

“While for a majority of players, gambling practices remain casual or recreational, studies show an upward trend of excessive practices.

“With the development of the online gambling offer and a competitive market, advertising and promotional strategies for gambling have also developed.”

Preventative measures

The decree marks the latest step by French authorities to curb gambling harm and protect consumers from related issues.

Earlier this month, regulator l’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) said it would prohibit the use of an athlete’s image in gambling communications.

ANJ released new gambling sponsorship regulations for sports teams and non-binding recommendations for French gambling sponsorships to “strengthen the regulation of these commercial practices”, which includes a role model ban.

The regulator also put in place a ban on using images of “athletes, referees and other players” in commercial communications. In addition, ANJ will prohibit sports organisations and athletes from entering contracts with brands operating illegally in France.

The new rules are the result of a gambling sponsorship working group launched in summer 2022.

Also this year, the ANJ rejected the promotional ad strategy of French national lottery operator Française des Jeux (FDJ). The ANJ said FDJ was not comprehensive enough in its response to the 2022 reservations regarding promotional strategy.

The regulator flagged the number of large-scale promotions planned for the year, as well as a strategy to make the lottery a product of everyday consumption; and a promotional strategy that makes a direct link between gambling and popular interest.

Clamping down

This all came in the wake of ANJ last February pledging to crack down on advertising due to over-saturation in 2021.

The ANJ said it would work to reduce the intensity of gambling ads by enforcing new guidelines and issuing new recommendations to licensees. Its approach, ANJ explained, was informed by a strict interpretation of existing legislation.

At the time, the ANJ said ads “trivialising” gambling would be banned, as would those with “unfounded statements on the chances of winning” or equating gambling with an improvement in social status, or as an alternative to paid work.

The ANJ also proposed a number of “recommendations” that were not binding. These included the industry setting a combined limit of three gambling ads per advertising slot on television and radio and three per day per site online.

In the weeks that followed, the ANJ warned operators were not doing enough to “de-intensify” marketing. This followed a review of operators’ promotional strategies for 2022.

Later in the same year, the ANJ also said it was looking to ban offering bonuses to “excessive” gamblers and called for a €100 welcome bonus limit.

The actions seemingly had an impact, with some operators and advertisers having signed charters in relation to marketing during the 2022 Fifa World Cup. These included promising to cut the number of ads that may be broadcast per break from four to three.

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