888 has been added to the list of licensees under the new French gambling laws, becoming the first website granted certification by the national regulatory body Autorité de Régulation des Jeux En Ligne (ARJEL) since the first wave of licenses for providing online poker sites in France.
The license will allow 888 to promote its poker network, a joint production with Microgaming software providers. Already licensed to provide French poker rooms online are BetClic, Bwin, Chili Poker, Everest Poker, PartyGaming, Poker Stars and Winamax.
ARJEL also licensed La Société Française des Jeux sur Internet (SFJI), the first operator who will launch a site on the new 888/Microgaming poker network. SFJI was formed by a collective of 40 land-based casinos in France in anticipation of the French government liberalizing Internet gambling laws.
The market for Internet gambling in France was opened to foreign-based casino and sportsbook operators just before the start of the 2010 World Cup in June. Results seem to be mixed thus far, but BetClic has pronounced unequivocal success in France, claiming it “has broken all its records in France since being licensed to offer sports betting into the market.”
On the other hand, Unibet recently reported a poor forecast for the remainder of 2010 despite the company’s entry into the lucrative French market and subsequent returns. And Bodog, which is not licensed in France, has theorized that the high tax rates might make continued operation of French poker rooms online unfeasible in the long term.