Since France opened up its online gambling industry in early June 2010, the country’s gambling commission ARJEL (Autorité de égulation des jeux en ligne) has given out 45 licenses to 32 different operators. These licenses provide both French and foreign groups the ability to offer online sports betting, poker, bingo, and casino games.
The most recent license issued by ARJEL went to French casino operator JOA Groupe, allowing them to offer online sports betting. This is the company’s second license from ARJEL; in mid September 2010, JOA Online received a license to set up an online poker site in France, connected to Playtech’s French iPoker network.
While the majority of French internet gambling licenses are going to French operators, many larger international groups have applied for and received licenses, including Intralot, Betclic, Everest, PKR, and PokerStars.
Since French gambling laws changed in on 12 May 2010, the local gambling industry has been booming. Initially only 11 operators were granted permission to offer online gambling services, but that number has since grown significantly.
Despite this apparent success, many EU operators have criticized the high licensing fees and strict rules set forward by ARJEL. Some have even gone so far as to call the rules anti-competitive, suggesting that they are in violation of EU free trade laws. So far France has shown no signs of changing the rules.