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France Passes Bill to End State Gambling Monopoly


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French online gambling fans as well as offshore online gambling firms
have reason to celebrate with the news that the French parliament has passed a
bill that will effectively end France’s state-run monopoly on online gambling,
and allow gamblers greater access to poker, football and horse race betting.

Like many other member states of the European Union (EU), France was
increasingly coming under fire from the European Commission (EC) for not opening
up its highly lucrative online gambling market to offshore online gambling
operators as per EU free trade agreements. However, it has finally come around.

France’s online gambling bill, which was passed by a parliamentary majority of
299 votes to 223, should come into effect by June this year, just in time for
the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The bill will be celebrated by Europe’s
largest gambling firms eager to access France’s multi-billion euro industry.

Said French Budget Minister, Francois Baroin, ‘This text [new bill] will allow
us to progressively dry up the black market in online gambling by creating a
legal offer which obeys the rules.’ The bill will require that online gambling
operators apply for a permit from a French online gambling regulator and
‘watchdog’.

France will benefit from its new ‘open’ online gambling industry by charging
taxes of 7.5 per cent on players’ sports bets and horse racing and 2 per cent on
all poker bets. In addition, some of the taxes will be earmarked for anti-online
gambling addiction campaigns as well as the prevention of underage gambling.

France’s new online gambling bill will also make it possible for the country to
block illegal online gambling sites as well as money transactions between French
banks and online gambling websites. This move by the French has been applauded
by the global online gambling industry and is seen as a step forward.

It is well documented that in 2008 online gamblers in France wagered over 36.7
billion euros at France’s two state-owned gambling operations, the PMU and the
Francaise des Jeux, which does not include the billions of euros wagered by
French gambling fans ‘illegally’ at offshore online gambling websites.

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