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Isabelle Andres would like online casinos to be regulated in France

Isabelle Andres, chief executive of France’s leading private operator Betclic Everest Group, has called on the country’s authorities to regulate online casinos as a way of generating tax revenues and control a market that has been operating openly and unregulated since France introduced regulation of its igaming sector in 2010.

In an interview with iGaming Business, Andres recognised that any effort to regulate online casinos in France would be “a long term effort but there is something which I find hard to believe politicians and parliamentarians have not thought about: when it comes to protecting consumers, the only way to do that is to control the market. The market doesn’t disappear (whether it’s regulated or not), it’s obvious and a reality. If you want to protect the consumer, you don’t leave the door open for the illegal sites. The other clear issue is that when you control the market you pick up the tax revenues and I believe it’s a very valid argument”.

The land-based casino lobby has some traction in France and opposes the regulation of online casinos, fearing it will take customer away from their often struggling establishments, but for Andres, “online and offline (casinos) are totally different and even if you forbid online casinos people will still visit the sites. Also, it’s not the same audience, land-based clients tend to be a lot older, it will never be the type of people who play online”.

When it comes to player protection and problem gambling, Andres said she was “convinced that you protect against addiction when the market is regulated and everything can be tracked and managed online”.

Betclic Everest last week announced that it had recovered much of its financial health in France and was looking forward to developing in other regulated markets.

Isabelle Andres took up the role of Betclic Everest chief executive earlier this year and spoke to iGB about how Betclic has re-established itself as profitable company in France, why it believes there is still value in the online poker market and how sports betting is taking a cultural foothold in its key market three years after regulation.

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