The Swedish online betting and gambling group Unibet has obtained an online gambling licnese from French regulator ARJEL. Unibet applied to ARJEL for a license to offer internet gambling in France back in May 2010. The license was approved on 22 October, and the unibet.fr domain is already live.
Unibet has been operating since 1997, and serves more than 4.4 million customers in over 100 countries around the globe. The group had a French presence in the past, but when French gambling laws changed earlier this year, Unibet was forced to make changes to their French operations in order to comply with the new regulations.
While the Stockholm-listed gambling group is glad to have obtained the license, and is looking forward to serving French players, they are concerned that it will be an uphill struggle to make a reasonable return. The problem is that the new French gambling regulations are quite stringent, and the taxes are, some say, unreasonably high.
“That we now received these licences is a first step. To receive a significant return on the French market, the terms need to be more favourable. It is our expectations that this will happen in the longer term,” Unibet’s CEO, Henrik Tjarnstrom, said.
Earlier this week, gambling group Ladbrokes abandoned plans to enter the French market, discouraged by an 8.5% tax on all betting stakes that ARJEL is imposing on online sportsbooks in France. Further restrictions surrounding payout limits and banned games continue to frustrate gambling groups who hope to one day offer legal internet gambling services to French players.
A review of the current online gambling tax in France is due in 12 months, but a lot can happen before then. If current license holders can’t manage to stay afloat, the French internet gambling industry may have tough times ahead.