The National Assembly of France voted in favor of a bill with intentions to liberalize and regulate their current national online gambling market on Tuesday. With a majority of 96, that is 302 in favor and 206 against, the bill passed and will now be moving on to the next step in French legislation – the Senate.
Though the bill gives the impression that France is opening the market and eliminating the monopoly that now exists, this proves to be far from the truth. Some of the stipulations and amendments unexpectedly added to the bill will make it very difficult for foreign competitors to enter the market.
One of the aforementioned amendments states that companies that apply for a license in the French market must first close all their French player accounts for six months before a license will be granted. Another amendment states that only online gambling operators that do not have operations in tax havens can be considered for a license. By tax havens, the legislators are referring to locations such as Gibraltar.
The Remote Gambling Association’s chief executive, Clive Hawkswood, stated that if this bill is passed it will “not be viable for the vast majority of private sector operators.” He also said that France will miss out on the benefits of having its own regulated online gambling market and that the bill will meet further challenges at the EU level due to the unacceptable barriers to market entry within it.
According to a government source, online gambling sites in France could raise state revenue by up to €1.5 million per annum through taxes. The EGBA’s secretary general, Sigrid Ligné, shows doubt in the French bill finding success in the EU.