The French government began taking steps more than a year ago to open the online gaming industry to companies outside the country, as its state-run monopoly had been heavily criticized by the European Union for not allowing a wider and competition-friendly marketplace. And finally, during the first week of April, 2010, the legislation passed and should be in effect by the end of June.
The EU evaluations of the French online gaming regulations prompted the March 5, 2009 bill to be introduced. The move to open the market was supported by much of the population in the hopes that more competition would give them more and better choices when selecting gaming websites. And some in the French government, like then-Budget Minister Eric Woerth, were vocal about their support, noting that the global gaming market could bring billions more dollars in revenue, as the taxation level for any company wishing to enter France is high. But the industry is competitive, and there were few doubts that non-French companies would line up for the chance to enter the market, especially since they were requesting documents to apply for licenses more than a year ago.
According to the Telegraph news report, the bill passed by a parliamentary majority of 299 to 223, and the process of implementing the law should be complete by the time the World Cup takes place in June of 2010.
Gaming companies from around the world can soon begin the application process with the French regulatory agency with the intention of receiving a license to offer their online gaming services to French residents. Rules will be implemented to put that industry in line with live casinos and horse racing, and taxes will be levied on any licensed regulator so that two percent of each poker bet and 7.5 percent of each sports or horse racing bet will go directly to the French government. However, a portion of those monies will be dedicated to gambling addiction programs. The bill also includes provisions to address the issue of underage gambling and rooting out criminal activities.
Current Budget Minister Francois Baroin told the Telegraph, “This text will allow us to progressively dry up the black market in online gambling by creating a legal offer which obeys the rules.”
Not only does the new law satisfy the request of the European Union and relieve that controversy, but revenue from the industry is expected to soar. In 2008, figures showed that 36.7 billion Euros were bet online by the French citizens, and with more options than the PMU and the Francaise des Jeux going forward, that figure could rise dramatically, in addition to the fact that the French government will collect license fees from other companies as well.