18 Oct. ’09 ~ France Gives Green Light to Online Gambling

France Gives Green Light to Online Gambling

France has inched a few steps closer to relaxing restrictions on online gambling. On Oct. 12, 2009, the French National Assembly voted for a bill that will allow private gambling companies to compete with state-owned betting firms for a slice of France’s online gambling market.

As Good As It Sounds?
Appearances can be deceptive, and it seems that launching the more liberal gambling rules may not be so straightforward.

302 assembly members voted to allow private sector gaming, while 206 were against the proposed changes. Despite the bill passing by a solid 96 votes, the vast majority of this support came from just two political parties – most of the remaining parties went the other way. This has triggered concerns that the bill may now face a frosty reception in the Senate, which has yet to debate the new law.

Gambling Industry Underwhelmed
Even before the bill reaches the Senate, representatives of the private sector gambling industry were quick to pour cold water on the idea that the French authorities have embraced private online gambling.

The Remote Gambling Association said the French online market would be “wholly unattractive and in most cases completely unviable” to private gambling companies, due to regulations and taxes imposed on them by the new gambling legislation.

The European Gambling and Betting Association backed up the RGA’s position. EGBA Secretary General, Sigrid LinĂ©, warned that a French online gambling market with reasonable conditions for private companies was “a long way off.”

The pessimism of the gambling associations may not have completely rubbed off on private gaming companies themselves, several of whom are keen to be first in line to reach French online gamblers. The French government recently reprimanded several online betting companies accused of advertising their services in France before the new law was formally implemented.

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