Sorare, Under Pressure From France’s Gambling Regulator, Will Expand Free Access

Regulators and lawmakers are concerned about money laundering, child protection and gambling addicts

AccessTimeIconNov 18, 2022 at 5:01 p.m. UTC
Updated Nov 23, 2022 at 4:23 p.m. UTC
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Non-fungible token fantasy gaming platform Sorare has agreed to amend the rules for its NFT soccer trading game under pressure from the French National Gambling Authority (ANJ), the regulator said in a statement on Friday.

The ANJ called for changes to French law to better account for Web3 gaming, after political criticism the current arrangements did little to protect children and compulsive gamblers.

As part of the deal, Sorare has said it will expand free access to the game. If it doesn’t do so by the end of March, the authority threatened to use its legal powers, which in theory allow it to impose fines of up to 5% of a company’s turnover.

“The chosen solution constitutes a needed regulatory response to the offer made by Sorare,” the ANJ said in a statement, adding that it needed to “effectively protect the public but also support innovation” in examining similar developments in future.

Sorare, a kind of fantasy sports card game involving well known stars including Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi, awards prizes that can be exchanged for money. Its apparent similarity to regulated activities has drawn complaints.

In an August question to the government, French Senator Jerome Durain said the game “seems to meet all the criteria of gambling under the internal security code." Durain called for better controls to stop money laundering, or playing by children or gambling addicts – concerns which the ANJ seems to share.

While the ANJ has accepted Sorare’s deal as a transitional measure, the regulator worries the law isn’t up to scratch, and called for a “rapid evolution” of legislation to cater for Web3.

A spokesperson for Sorare told CoinDesk it would implement the temporary changes early in 2023, and longer term agreed with the need for new regulations.

“Sorare shares this urgent need and is committed to working with all stakeholders, including the ANJ, to define this new [regulatory] framework,” the spokesperson said. “Through its constructive exchanges with the ANJ, Sorare once again reaffirms its desire to build the next global entertainment giant.”

Over the summer, Sorare CEO Nicolas Julia said it was “not surprising” that a growing technology would raise new questions, and that he saw it as a “sign that shows we are pushing boundaries.”


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Jack Schickler

Jack Schickler was a CoinDesk reporter focused on crypto regulations, based in Brussels, Belgium. He doesn’t own any crypto.

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