France Exploring Web3 Gambling and NFT Legislation

Posted on: September 21, 2023, 08:32h. 

Last updated on: September 21, 2023, 12:57h.

France still doesn’t legally allow online casinos. But its lawmakers aren’t letting that stop them from limiting how the segment might work. In particular, legislators this week discussed how to create a legal framework for games based on Web3 technology.

French Senators participate in a legislative session
French Senators participate in a legislative session. Lawmakers are discussing legislation that could open the door to Web3 digital casinos. (Image: Blogspot)

The “SREN” bill, which the Senate approved in July, would define a new framework for Web 3 games. These are games based on digital assets such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that take advantage of the decentralized nature of Web3, a form of the World Wide Web that uses blockchains and token-based solutions.

The latest measure, only one portion of SREN, addresses NFT provider Sorare and similar platforms for exchanging digital trading cards. This new framework seeks to control how these platforms operate, and to place limitations on their capabilities.

At the same time, some have viewed it as a possible avenue for legal Web3 gambling. By offering NFT winnings, companies could offer gambling without being subject to France’s current position on online casinos.

Politicians Weigh In

SREN, which attempts to regulate and secure almost the entire digital space, has been the subject of several dozen amendments. Almost all political parties have introduced their own takes on the legislation, and the topic of regulated NFTs has caused considerable turmoil.

The legislation, in its current form, would legally allow what France is calling “games with monetizable digital objects,” or Jonum, for its French acronym. However, Jonum would also possibly create a loophole that would open the doors to online casinos that could use NFTs as payouts.

NFTs share the same decentralized technology as cryptocurrencies. Therefore, opponents, including some land-based casino operators, view the language as approval of crypto-based casinos.

Among the points of concern with the legislation are the protection of minors and the fight against money laundering. On these two points, lawmakers introduced updated language to SREN that will enforce gambling controls, and the National Gaming Authority (ANJ, for its French acronym) will have oversight.

Some lawmakers have fought to remove the text from SREN; others want to classify Jonum as gambling. There are others who believe it’s time to put the debate to rest and finally legalize online casinos.

Casinos Not Happy

Currently, only land-based licensed casinos can operate in the digital space, according to French law. However, they mostly don’t out of fear of losing the revenue streams at their physical properties.

When renewed discussion on SREN began last week, the casino operators were caught by surprise. Two industry trade groups, Casinos de France and the Association of French Independent Casinos, chastised the government because they weren’t invited to participate in the discussion.

The groups believe that Jonum represents an entry point into the national market for illegal online casino operators to flourish even more. Afjel, the French online gaming association, recently reported that the illegal online gambling segment is worth €1.6 billion (US$1.7 billion), €200 million (US$212.8 million) more than sports betting.

Conversely, according to industry data, casinos generate nearly €400 million (US$425.6 million) in revenue for the communities they serve. They also provide €1.5 billion (US$1.6 billion) in tax revenue for the country each year.

The trade groups called their absence from the discussion an “inexplicable oversight.” SREN will come under scrutiny in October in the National Assembly. Between now and then, casino owners will likely work overtime to get lawmakers on their side and continue to express their anger at not being included.