When it comes to the latest in online gambling regulations and legislation, all eyes are currently on France. While various members of the EU have been at odds for over a year with their dramatically different laws regarding online gambling, France – which had been straddling the fence for over a year with its highly restrictive gambling legislation – has finally come over on the side of full online gambling legalization.
Earlier this week, in a relatively close vote of 299 to 223, France’s National Assembly passed a new bill that will pave the way for popular online gambling activities like cash poker and sports betting. The bill is now on its way to the European Commission where it is expected to be approved in April. From there the bill will move on to the French Minister who is likely to sign off on the new laws in May, allowing near-immediate implementation nationwide.
It would be nice to say that French legislators finally saw the light, but it’s more likely that what they saw was green. With one of the most popular sports betting events – the World Cup – fast approaching in June, the National Assembly seemed all too eager to push through the once-controversial legislation which should coincidentally be in place just in time to allow the country to profit from remote betting for the event.
In the past, France has only allowed online gambling through approved national operators. Though this new legislation will ideally open the market to more outside operators, finally giving French players their choice of online poker rooms and casinos, many private companies still fear that France will cling to its national interests by continuing to openly favor French-owned operations. These concerns aren’t entirely unfounded, especially since the French-based Mangas Gaming group was the first to profit from new advertising deals.
Reuters released a comprehensive French online gambling market overview on the heels of the National Assembly’s positive decision, and by all accounts the potential profit margin for operators based outside of France are grim, what with continuing restrictions on popular games like roulette and blackjack. Still, such operators remain optimistic about their prospects in France. Leading bookmaker win – which only four years ago faced legal action in France for illegal gambling charges – is only days away from relaunching French access to their sites.