Should gambling be capped in the name of sobriety?

Usbek & Rica: Can you present the chair you run and its links with La Française des Jeux?

Sebastien Martin: Established in 2018, the “Gaming Regulation” Chair, which I lead with my colleagues Jean-Baptiste Vila and Aude Rouyère, brings together major players in the sector: the National Gaming Authority, the Betclic group, the Française des Jeux, the Barrière group, the Marocaine des jeux et des sports and the horse racing betting site ZEturf. It mainly conducts research activities on the issue of the legal framework of the gaming sector to strengthen knowledge of this specific area and build a real space for reflection to provide answers to its main challenges.

The chair has already published two important works with LexisNexis editions. The first is devoted to the notion of game(s), which is both fluctuating, insofar as it depends on the sector (under exclusive rights, authorization or approval) in which it is deployed, but also evolving, as recently demonstrated the technological developments, through the development of artificial intelligence and the generalization of algorithms, which upset the traditional apprehension of gambling and games of chance.

The second book deals with thea 2019/2020 reform of gambling regulations and takes up the work carried out during a symposium organized at the Maison de la Radio in ParisOctober 21 and 23, 2020. Practitioners and academics analyze the overhaul of the organization and methods of regulation of the sector, in particular with regard to the transformation of the regulatory authority or the supervision of forms of gambling such as emerges from this reform.

What are the origins of La Française des Jeux? Around what principles was it born?

La Française des jeux, in its modern version, comes from the National Lottery created by article 136 of the finance law of 1933 to help war wounded, veterans and victims of agricultural calamities. The first lottery draw was held on November 7 of the same year at the Trocadéro. Since then, the company has experienced not only a diversification of its activities but also statutory transformations. The National Lottery became the National Lottery and National Loto Society in 1979, when it became a public limited company, then France Loto in 1989, and today the Française des jeux.

The monopoly and public status of La Française des jeux evolved under the presidencies of Nicolas Sarkozy and then Emmanuel Macron…

Before the presidential term of Nicolas Sarkozy, the renewal in 2006 of the agreement between the public authorities and the FdJ gave rise to litigation relating to the nature of the missions entrusted to it by the State. For the judge, operating a reversal with his previous case law, the gaming activities assumed by the semi-public company were not in themselves constitutive of a general interest. From then on, the company was no longer considered to be a public service. However, his status had not changed.

Under the presidency of Emmanuel Macron, Parliament adopted article 137 of the “PACTE” law of May 22, 2019, which laid down both the principle of opening up capital and that of allocating a exclusive right to La Française des jeux for lottery games (physical or online) as well as sports prediction games (physical) for a period of twenty-five years. As of 2019, with the IPO on November 21, the process of selling 50% of the capital of the FDJ that it held, the State’s stake in the FdJ fell below 25% .

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Should gambling be capped in the name of sobriety?

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