When French gambling laws changed earlier this year, liberalizing the nation’s online gambling market and opening up doors to foreign competitors, most saw the change as a good thing. It soon became apparent, however, that new regulations were to be quite strict, with intense regulation and high taxes making foreign internet gambling operators think twice before applying for a license.
So far, several larger gambling groups have applied for and received licenses from ARJEL (Autorité de Régulation des Jeux En Ligne, or the Authority of Regulation of Online Games) which allow them to offer online gambling sites in France. Recent additions to the roster include BetClic, UniBet, PokerStars, Party Gaming and ChiliPoker. Some, like PokerStars, have been in negotiations with ARJEL for months, working hard to meet all of the regulator’s stringent licensing requirements.
Other internet gambling organizations are not having the same luck. Back in February of this year, Playtech began moving into position, hoping to obtain a license to offer internet gambling in France. A number of Playtech-powered online casinos have had a long history of good relations with French players, and many did quite well in the French online gambling market.
A recent decision, however, has removed all Playtech-powered casinos from France. Few details have surfaced so far, but as of midnight on June 29th, every internet gambling site running on Playtech software stopped accepting players from France.
Network-wide bans like this are not unheard of. Many software providers, for example, do not let their casinos to accept players in the United States. Software providers have the power to impose this sort of restrictions on all licensees. It is possible that excptions will be made for individual gambling sites that go through the process of obtaining a French gambling license – but for now, the move is a way to enforce France’s decision to regulate foreign-hosted gambling operations that target players within their borders.