Historically, the French government limited gambling to a lottery, run by state-owned operation Groupe Française des Jeux, and horse racing, run by state-owned operation Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU). All other forms of gambling were deemed illegal. However, this all changed with new legislation enacted in 2010.
After operating a state-run monopoly for online gaming for almost three years and under pressure from the European Commission (EC), the French Gambling Act (law number 2010-476 of 12 May 2010) was introduced and enacted, allowing regulated online gaming. The French government realized that by legalizing and regulating online gambling in France, it could better control underage and problem gambling, as well as unlicensed and disreputable online gambling sites, while increasing tax revenues. The purpose of this law was to thwart gambling addiction and money laundering, and to shelter existing French operators’ market share, including the government-owned monopolies.
Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL) was created to regulate the online gaming industry and opened its doors to foreign operators with the stipulation that operators adhere to a strict set of guidelines. On June 1, 2010 ARJEL began offering licenses for online poker (Texas Holdem and Omaha), online sports betting, and online horse betting. Additionally, gaming licenses were made available in time for operators to take advantage of World Cup betting, in the summer of 2010. In the first month of legalized online gaming, there were 1.2 million accounts opened and €83 million wagered. The numbers reflected more than a 50 percent increase over the same time period in 2009, when betting was confined to state-owned websites.
The new regulations had an immediate impact on the online poker market. By November 2010, Pokerstars.fr – the PokerStars French-only network – was the largest poker platform in terms of players in France and the 10th largest overall, according to PokerScout.com. PokerScout listed Winamax.fr as second in France (12th overall) and EverestPoker.fr as third (13th overall).
Even though the new law opened up France’s online gaming market to foreign operators, it came with restrictions. Only limited types of online gaming would be available to the operators, and the incumbent French monopolies were to get preferential treatment.
ARJEL also implemented extensive requirements for dealing with problem gambling. Players must have the option to self-exclude from play and to limit how much they can gamble, and links to problem-gambling resources must be displayed on the site in a prominent position.
ARJEL granted 17 licenses in the first eight days of the regulation’s being enacted. As of the end of 2010, 54 sites from 30 operators had been licensed by ARJEL. All of the newly licensed operators stopped accepting French players at their online casinos to stay compliant with French gambling law. Additionally, the pool for online poker players must be limited to France, and online operator file servers storing player account information must be located in France to be eligible for a French operating license.
The effective tax rate on sports betting is 8.5% (increased from the original 7.5% in 2010) and payback to players is limited to 85%. The taxes and 85% payback limit were intended to protect players by making gambling less addictive. Poker is taxed at 2% of each poker pot or tournament prize pool.
With mediocre turnover figures reported for 2010, criticism about operating conditions for sports betting companies in France has increased and on March 18, 2011 France’s budget minister rejected lowering online tax rates for 2011, and implied that online casino games would not be authorized in the short term.
The government has been prompted to consider making amendments to the existing gaming law due to numerous player and operator complaints, with many operators withdrawing from the French market due to high tax obligations.
As of the end of the third quarter 2012, the French online gaming market continues in its downward spiral with online poker leading the pack with the lowest generated revenues of €70 million and stakes in table games declining 12% as well as a 6% decline in horse betting revenues amounting to €61 million with active player accounts decreasing 2%. On the up side, thanks to the Olympics, online sports betting increased 14% to €156 million compared to the prior year. Without the Olympics, the revenues generated would have been a loss.
3 France sites support English. edit your preferences
Autorité de Régulation des Jeux En Ligne
99-101 rue Leblanc
+33 1 57 13 13 00
View All Gaming Jurisdictions
France Jurisdiction News
WSOP Europe on the move
Paris will host the 2013 WSOPE at the historic Casino Barrière Enghien-les-Bains as the tournament series returns to mid-October dates.
Hellmuth gets #13 with WSOP Europe Main Event win
Phil Hellmuth was in top form on Thursday night, claiming the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event championship to increase his record WSOP bracelet total to 13. And oh yeah, he also won more than €1 million in prize money.
France: Gambler sues French government
Gambling addict files $133,000 lawsuit against French government contending they should have blocked his access to online poker sites.
Unibet signs agreement to acquire the Solfive Group and re-enter the french market
Unibet to acquire 100 per cent of shares of French company Solfive SAS, owner of SPS Betting France SAS.
GTECH G2 unveils new slot game at EiG
GTECH G2 introduced the new Sherlock Holmes slots game at the European iGaming Congress in Copenhagen.
The Netherlands, South Africa take different approaches to iGaming
This week, two countries have announced that are taking vastly different approaches to online gambling. While the Netherlands has decided to license and regulate online poker — and online poker only — South Africa's courts have banned online gambling completely.
GPWA podcast with Everest Affiliates on French regulations
GPWA Managing Editor Vin Narayanan is joined by Itsik and Dorrit from Everest Affiliates for a talk about the new regulations for online poker in France and what it means for affiliates.
France issues 17 online gambling licenses
The French government issued 17 online gambling licenses to 11 different operators Tuesday for betting on sports, horse racing and poker.
France: William Hill terminate French online business
Following regulatory changes, William Hill pull out of the French online gambling business.
Right2Bet makes its GPWA debut
Right2Bet discusses European regulations in general and takes a closer look at France's new online gambling law in its first article for the GPWA and APCW.
French remote gambling law fails EU tests
The Remote Gambling Association says the remote gambling law adopted by the lower House of the French Parliament does not adhere to EU rules.
Clarion Gaming announces events schedule for 2010
Clarion Gaming has released its events schedule for 2010 and has made a number of radical changes to the calendar.
Eyes turn to France as market opens up
Many online gambling operators expect a boost for their business from the 2010 scheduled opening of the French market.
Tennis-Autopsy shows Montcourt died of cardiac arrest
International news brief: Montcourt, who had just begun a five-week ban for gambling on other players' matches, suffered cardiac arrest.
European Parliament MEPs to debate online gambling rules to combat fraud, addiction, consumers
MEPs will on Monday debate whether online gambling should be regulated at a national or European level.
UK, Malta dig in heels over EU gaming initiative
International news brief: Britain and Malta have teamed up to head off moves by EU president France to forge a bloc-wide policy for regulating the multi-billion euro gambling industry.
UEFA Cup matches under investigation
International news brief: UEFA is to launch a gambling investigation unit after it emerged 25 UEFA Cup matches were being studied due to irregular betting patterns.
France's Mathieu Montcourt banned from tennis circuit for betting
International News Brief: French player Mathieu Montcourt was banned from the men's tennis circuit for two months on Friday after being found guilty of betting on matches.
French bets ruling could be windfall for sport
International News Brief: French high court ruling paves way for sports governing bodies to charge betting companies for permission to offer markets on their tournaments.
France expects first online betting permits in 2009
International News Brief: France will begin issuing authorisation for online betting operators from the second half of 2009 after agreeing with the European Union to open up the market.
Scientific Games wins French contract
Scientific Games announced it has been chosen as the primary instant ticket provider to La Francaise des Jeux .
WAP affiliate program targets French market
Income Access and Gold Mobile Casino have announced that their WAP affiliate program will be targeting the French market with a new site.
Unibet CEO posts bail
Unibet CEO Petter Nylander was transferred from the Netherlands to France Wednesday and released on €200,000 bail for allegedly violating French gambling laws.
Top-10 Gambling Destinations
Our Top-10 list of Gambling Destinations begins in New England, travels the high seas to China and lands in Las Vegas.
French step away from online gambling battle
International News Brief: France is preparing to bow to pressure from Brussels and agree to a partial liberalisation of its state-run betting monopolies.
French court overturns online gambling decision
International News Brief: France's top court has overturned a decision that banned a Maltese company from offering online betting on horse races in France, adding to pressure from the European Commission for an end to the French state monopoly.