The government of France was hoping to legalize online gambling by the start of the World Cup, and it seems they are well on their way to achieving this goal. A new bill has just been passed by the parliament, 299 votes to 223, which will change French gambling laws just in time to let local punters legally wager on the World Cup over the internet.
The new bill will end the state monopoly on internet gambling in the country, and will simultaneously open up the market to private gaming firms. The new regulatory system will change the face of the country’s online gambling industry. The new legislation forces gambling operators to undergo software check, and it helps to strengthen measures to prevent underage players from accessing online games.
Financially, online gambling in France will follow rules very similar to those now applied to land-based gambling in the country. The state will tax sports bets at 7.2%, and poker bets at 2%. Some of the tax money generated by the new law will go towards anti-addiction campaigns.
The current internet gambling market in France is overrun by unlicensed operators, and it is hoped that the new bill will help to tidy things up. Budget Minister Francois Baroin says the bill will “progressively dry up the black market in online gambling by creating a legal offer which obeys the rules”.
Players will generally benefit from the new bill. It will introduce much-needed oversight into the industry, and will provide players with a stronger level of protection against rogue operations. One negative effect is that the bill gives regulators the power to block sites which continue to offer their services to French players without first obtaining a proper license. It is not known what the licenses cost, but hopefully foreign operators will find the fees reasonable.