Recent changes to French gambling laws have many analysts feeling that the legalization of internet gambling in the country could do more harm than good. The reason for the concern is simple: along with the new gambling regulation come high taxes and extremely strict rules. Plus, on top of creating a less-than-welcoming set of circumstances for offshore operators, the French government’s own state gambling monopoly is still running strong, holding on tight to more than its share of the internet gambling market.
The changes came about two weeks ago, when lawmakers effectively legalized certain forms of online gambling sites in France . These new laws break through the long-standing monopoly held by Francaise de Jeux and horse racing outfit PMU.
Now that the market is open, the bigger internet gambling groups around the globe are scrambling to get their foot in the door before their competitors. Bwin, PartyGaming, and PokerStars have already applied for licenses, each hoping to grab a slice of the fresh gaming market.
Critics, however, remain cautious. The new legislation is picky, and has left operators without the right to offer low-risk games like blackjack and roulette – only sports betting and poker are currently allowed. More importantly, however, the well-established Francaise de Jeux will maintain its hundreds of land-based betting outlets, offering a recognized and comfortable alternative to internet gambling in France.
Unless the rules change again soon, only the most robust and fastest-moving operators will survive in France’s newly-liberated online gambling market. Even the groups which manage to establish a firm presence in the country will be facing tough tax rate (nearly 9 percent for some forms of online gambling) which will eat away at profits. The new regulatory system is one of the strictest in all of Europe. But the new French market is very lucrative, and everyone is fighting to take advantage of this new opportunity to turn a profit.