The online gambling scene in France is on the verge of changing irrevocably with the imminent enactment of a new legislation inspired in part from the successful example of the UK and other European countries. It remains a vastly untapped potential for online gambling operators. The liberalisation of the market, which up until now has been controlled by the monopoly of the state-owned Française des Jeux, is under intense scrutiny from the European Commission while at the same time preparing itself for the fast-paced environment of the online gambling world in which operators are already active offering an ever-growing choice of games of chance to the willing French consumer.
In this article I will attempt to cover the key points of the emerging French Gaming Law (which remains to be finalised) by looking at its viability with regards to tax and licensing regimes and how it will affect foreign entrants to the market.
In the interest of the consumers, an essential element of this legislation aims to prevent addiction by fixing limits on wagers and winnings that may be placed or received by punters. With this in mind, operators will be obliged to include warnings about underage playing and the potential risks of excessive gambling.
The opening of the market will encompass horse race and sports betting and shared games of skill, involving the ability of the player to improve his or her chances by adopting a certain strategy in relation to their opponents – such as online poker. Hence, lotteries, online slot machines, betting exchanges and casino games involving playing the bank (blackjack and roulette for example) will be excluded from the opening as they are considered too addictive.
A new independent LUXURY777 public authority, ARJEL (Games Regulations Authority) will be set up specifically to regulate the remote gambling market, responsible for:
· Ensuring compliance with policy objectives regarding internet accessible games.
· Suggesting to government specific requirements for different types of licences available.
· Preparing and attributing online gambling operator licence requests.
· Monitoring online operations and clamping down on illegal gambling sites and fraud.
ARJEL will be empowered to block access to such websites through a direct injunction to Internet Service Providers and block such financial transactions.
· Enacting auditing rules concerning technical and financial data for each transaction.
· Making suggestions to Government on legislative and regulatory issues.
· All operators shall be required to provide information and guarantees as to their identification, gambling experience, shareholding, measures taken to prevent fraud and money laundering, secure online payment and protection of data and minors.
· Licences will be granted to operators within Member States of the EU or ECC. Any of these whose headquarters or shareholders are based in so called non co-operative tax havens shall be refused licences to offer their services in France.