In 2010 France enacted a law to regulate supply and consumption of online gambling. Its primary aim was to protect citizens from gambling-related harm. This study aims to assess differences in gambling patterns and related harm between online gamblers who use licensed versus unlicensed sites. Participants (N = 3860) completed a self-administered online survey on gambling practices. Pairwise logistic regressions examined the association between the legal statuses of gambling sites people patronized and demographic variables and gambling types. Multivariate logistic regression models explored associations between gambling patterns and related problems according to the legal status of sites people have gambled on. Overall, 53.7 % of online gamblers report gambling exclusively on licensed sites. Those who bet on regulated activities on unlicensed sites, versus licensed sites, are more likely to be female, younger, less educated, inactive in the labor market and are more likely to perceive their financial situation to be difficult. Gambling on unlicensed sites is associated with more intense gambling patterns and more gambling-related problems compared to licensed sites. Findings demonstrate that gambling activities carried out on state licensed sites are associated with less overall harm to gamblers. Implications of these findings on future policy are discussed and prospective research directions are outlined.
Keywords: France; Harm; Licenses; Online gambling; Regulations.