Britain’s second-largest bookmaker, William Hill, is following Betfair in leaving the French market in response to new French gambling laws.
In addition to announcing the withdrawal, a spokesman for William Hill did state on Wednesday that “In conjunction with the changes to the regulatory regime in France, William Hill Online is considering whether to apply for a licence to offer permitted online gambling products to French residents.”
Though this means that William Hill will lose all its income from internet betting in France before the lucrative 2010 World Cup, the spokesman assured that “the impact (on turnover for the fiscal year) of the current withdrawal from France is not expected to be material.” Reuters recently reported that William Hill had made “an encouraging start to the year and was confident of meeting full-year forecasts.”
Last week, William Hill’s fellow U.K.-based online bookmakers Betfair announced that they would be dropping out of the French market based on the new laws as well, blasting the regulations as “protectionist” and stating that the new French gambling laws “does not adequately open the former monopoly’s market to true competition from other operators.” Betfair is awaiting a review scheduled for January 2012 before deciding whether to re-enter the French market.
The sweeping changes made in France to the gambling laws there included opening up the market to a limited number of foreign-based online gambling sites, should they obtain the now-necessary operating license.