France will soon be opening up its market to internet gambling based in other countries. As a result, lots of deals are being made to get poker network infrastructure ready for French players.
The most recent arrangement was made between software company Microgaming and 888, who will launch their poker network when France is officially opened. Gigi Levy, CEO of 888 Holdings, said, “This deal marks a turning point in the industry, with big networks collaborating in newly regulated markets to create a shared pool of liquidity, benefiting customers and assisting in rapidly generating large poker networks in each market.”
Earlier, the former state-owned monopoly Pari-Mutuel Urbain (or PMU) signed a contract with PartyPoker to create a network of French poker rooms, and PartyGaming also signed on with AB Group to expand their activities in France. Bwin and PokerStars have already applied for licenses, each hoping to grab a slice of the fresh gaming market.
The legislation, which passed the French parliament in April, is awaiting approval from the European Union, as well as France’s Supreme Court and Constitutional Council. The new laws have been promised to go into effect before this summer’s World Cup tournament.
François Baroin, France’s budget minister, said of the new French gambling laws that he was “convinced this solution will allow us to gradually drain the black market of online gaming by creating a legal alternative.”
While the bill comes closer to becoming law, France’s Right2bet advocacy group is still maintaining their stance against the new regulations that they are “too excessive for most companies” and will be biased toward companies like PMU. Gary Mullen, manager of Right2bet, said the law was “an attempt by the French government to make its betting laws look compatible with European Union law concerning the free movement of trade, when in fact it is an attempt to shore-up the state-run monopolies by placing draconian restrictions on any private operator wanting to enter the market.”