France revolutionizes the Online Gambling Market

For years the French gambling market regulatory situation was unclear. It was seemingly dominated by state owned monopolies - the Francaise des jeux, in lottery and Pari Mutuel Urbain in horse racing. However, off shore online gambling companies, operating in all gambling verticals were, in reality allowed to serve French players practically undisturbed.

Now the French Online Gambling Regulatory Body - the Authorite’ de Re’gulation des jeux en Ligne is determined to set the records straight and regulate the French market, while opening it to competition, both local and international.

As a first step towards the market regulation the ARJEL granted 17 licenses to 11 operators authorizing them to provide Horse Racing, Sports Betting or poker services online. Licenses were grated mostly to French companies, but also to Bwin of Austria, Malta based BetClic and Canadian operator Everest Poker.

Operators who received license for Sports betting and Horse racing can start providing the services immediately, while online poker providers will have to wait until the end of June, for a ruling on a petition filed by the Maltese Government to the European Commission on the matter.

Although the regulation of the French market may be perceived by some as a great opportunity it does have some major downsides.

First, under the new regulatory regime only licensed operators will be allowed to service French players. This means that non licensed operators, like giants, Party Gaming, are at least for now, banned from the French market.

Online Casino operators are strictly forbidden from serving French players with Casino games, like Roulette, Blackjack or Slot Machines, which are very popular, but illegal in the French market. Unlike the situation so far, it seems that off shore operators that will breach this ban will be severely prosecuted.

And finally even licensed operators may find the new situation far from convenient. The French market heavy taxes may have an impact on the profitability of their local operations.