Change in French gambling policy ?

France's budget minister, Eric Woerth, told a press conference Thursday that his proposed legislation to liberalise the traditionally monopolistic French gambling industry includes provisions for some online gambling, and will be presented to cabinet ministers at the end of March 2009 or the beginning of April. He said the bill will likely be voted on in the French Parliament and Senate before the 2009 summer recess.

The announcement represents a major change in French gambling policy, traditionally dominated by two state monopolies, Francais des Jeux and Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU)). Although full details are still scant, Woerth said he envisions a 2 percent tax on online poker, and a 7.5 percent tax on sports and horse racing.

Once approved by Parliament, the implementation of the law, and the real opening up of the French online market, should come into effect around January 1st 2010.

France has for several years been under pressure from the European Commission to comply with EU principles of free movement of goods and services between member nations (see previous InfoPowa reports).

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