Is Gambling Online Illegal in France?

Background to Gambling in France

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The French have a culture of gambling that stretches back for centuries. According to their historians (who are by no means unchallenged), the French invented some of the most significant gambling games still played today.

Allegedly today's poker is based on the French game of poque; they also invented the Roulette wheel, and their aristocracy gave the game of Baccarat its air of exclusivity - the game is based on Chemin de Fer.

All of this points to a rich gambling heritage, and it is no surprise that gambling is as popular in France today is it has ever been. Gambling is currently a US$335bn industry, and shows no signs of a slowdown in growth.

France is home to some of the world's most famous casinos, and betting on horse racing is a national French pastime.

Gambling Legislation in France

Currently, gambling in France is a state controlled monopoly, which has recently been relaxed with the opening of the French gambling market to competition. Still, the government's slice of all betting runs to huge 25%. Yet, many French citizens perceive this to be a "moral" situation, as funds accrued from gambling taxes are channelled towards issues of public interest.

For example, tax from gambling revenue is assigned to subsidize many national sports initiatives. It also funds programmes to breed better horses, which is of national interest in a nation passionate about betting on horse racing.

Not long before the World Football Cup 2010, France has allowed online gambling in its market.

logo-ARJEL-France

Current Online Legislation

In terms of online gambling, France had a long dispute with the EU, which has rules of free competition that require opening the borders to member states. Therefore forbidding French citizens to gamble over the internet was in direct violation of this EU directive.

Finally, on April 7, 2010, the French National Assembly passed the bill on the opening to gambling competition and Internet gambling, issuing a number of licenses to various operators, such as Bwin, PartyPoker, Winamax, etc. All these operators now have a .fr site especially for the French market.

In order to prevent gambling addictions, the bill bans all games of chance, such as roulette, slots, etc. The games allowed by this new legislation include online poker and sportsbetting, and similar, as those are supposedly not games of chance, but games of strategy. Also, all gambling activities are under supervision and control of the French Authority of Online Gaming Regulation (ARJEL). Thus, with this new law, France is quite close to becoming the most regulated online gaming market.

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