Betfair has announced that they will no longer offer internet betting in France. The country recently made some significant changes to their gambling laws, especially to the way in which online gambling operations get licensed. Now, foreign operators will only be allowed to offer their services to French players if they hold a French license. Unlicensed groups that cater to French players without a license are now operating illegally under French law (though technically, French authorities have little recourse against businesses that operate outside of the country’s borders).
While Betfair has yet to make a final decision as to whether or not they will apply for a French gambling license, in the meantime, they have decided that the most prudent course of action is to play it safe and to stop accepting French players at their online sportsbook. The new French gambling laws and internet gambling licensing requirements have not yet been fully published, and Betfair does not want to enter into an agreement without fully understanding the implications.
While the opening-up of France’s online gambling market has been generally seen as a positive move since it replaced the old online gambling monopoly with a freer open market system, Betfair is critical of the changes. Betrair’s Director of European Public Affairs Tim Phillips calls the new restrictions “protectionist”, and argues that they “go against the interests of French consumers”.
“The ultimate loser will be the French consumer,” says Phillips. “The new law does not adequately open the former monopoly’s market to true competition from other operators. We hope that the review, scheduled 18 months from now, will amend the law to address these flaws.”
Despite their frustrations, Betfair remains hopeful that they will be able to once again offer their online sportsbook in France. “We are looking very hard at the French market and how we might operate within the new licensed regime.”