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French Online Gambling Laws Leave Betfair Out


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The powers that be over at Betfair, the world’s leading online
betting exchange
, must be pulling their hair out at the news that recent
amendments to French laws that will allow foreign online gambling companies to
operate in the country, will effectively exclude Betfair from doing the same.

While Betfair, and other offshore online betting exchanges, were eagerly rubbing
their hands together at the prospect of finally being able to tap into the
lucrative French gambling market (estimated to be worth in excess of  5 billions
euros a year), government officials made a ‘last-minute’ amendment.

Under the terms of the amendment, online gambling companies that allow punters
to lay as well as place bets were excluded from France’s new online gambling
laws, which is a direct blow to sports exchanges like Betfair. However, by all
accounts the online gambling firm is not taking the news lying down.

For instance, Betfair’s managing director, Mark Davies, described the move by
the French government as ‘discriminatory’. He said, ‘We will consider our
position. It is fairly clearly discriminatory against the biggest and most
competitive online operator in Europe, and a slap in the face for the consumer.’

But although Betfair and other online betting exchanges like it are up in arms
about the amendments, according to some sources the French government’s actions
are more to do with the protection of French online gamblers than any type of
malice, and are based on a UK Gambling Commission report.

According to a 2007 UK Gambling Commission report, 9.9 percent of gamblers that
used online sports betting exchanges like Betfair eventually developed some form
of gambling addiction. This was in stark contrast to the 1 to 3 percent of the
general gambling population who developed addictions.

But Betfair’s woes aside, the online gambling world in general is thrilled that
France has finally chosen to open up its borders and reduce its long-time
monopolistic stranglehold over the country’s gambling industry. The only concern
is that the new French laws could encourage an increase in match-fixing.

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