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New online gambling laws now in force in France

Online gambling law already de vigueur

No online gambling took place in France in June in a transitional period.

By July 1st 2010, the new online gambling framework was established and the operators allowed to offer online gambling products have worked 24/7 to be ready on time, in order to capture their market share in this nascent market.

First of all, what is this new French gaming law exactly? The purpose is to prevent gambling addiction and money laundering, and to protect the market share of some of the existing French operators, including Government operated ones.

Now games of pure luck are not allowed on the French Web anymore. Therefore most online casino products are not available in France at all, such as slots, roulette and craps. Similarly the most risky sports bets such as spread betting are not legal anymore in the country of Voltaire.

Fortunately some games are allowed. Online poker and online sports betting are allowed as they are considered games of strategy. But only operators which obtain a gaming license are allowed to provide these games on the Internet. Here is the list of the licensed operators allowed to run online poker games as of July 1st 2010:

The new online gambling landscape in France.

a French casino

All online gaming activities (sports betting, online poker & horse racing) fall under the regulatory authority of ARJEL (Autorité de Régulation des Jeux En Ligne, i.e. the Authority of Online Gaming Regulation). Read more at http://www.arjel.fr/.

Not just restricting the markets to licensees only, the new law also makes the conditions for running these games more stringent.

A new tax is levied on online wagers. A warning message mentioning the risk of gambling (similar to the tobacco warning messages found on cigarette packs) must be displayed on websites, software and even ads.

A booklet full of new procedures has to be implemented and programmed, such as adding a feature letting players opt for self-ban, or forbidding any advertisement that does not comply with French laws, such as making unproven statements.

Last but not least all French players must play on these French websites. They are only allowed to play online poker with other French players (based on their IP address). This means that all existing French players must transfer their accounts to the new .fr sites. All transactions are now dealt in euros instead of dollars.

This has been an incredibly swift change in France gaming, as all the big players with a license like pokerstars and partypoker have already the French version of their website and software up and running.

France is now probably the most regulated market for online gaming. Meanwhile not much has changed in America, but the Obama administration has much bigger issues to deal with at the moment. Let's see how other countries follow the French example.