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France to open up online gambling from next year

March 18, 2009 2009

France will open its gambling market to competition and begin to grant online betting licences in 2010.

Online operators, including non-France-based companies, will be granted five-year licences to take bets from French residents on sport and poker. Lotteries and slot machines will remain under state control. For their part, operators will be required to provide measures that prevent children from gambling online and control addiction.

The bill would end the monopolies enjoyed by Pari Mutuel Urbain, the state horse race betting operator, and Francaises des Jeux, which runs lottery games and sport betting for the government. Pari Mutuel Urbain, had annual revenue of €9.3 billion last year. La Française des Jeux had revenue of €9.3 billion in 2007.

The minister, Eric Woerth, said the gambling market in France would be expanded to adapt “to Internet reality” and help France “get out of an unsustainable situation in which the state is losing a growing part of the betting market.”

As part of the plan, which will be presented to the cabinet at the end of the month, the government will introduce a levy of about 7.5 percent on Internet wagers on sports events and horse races, and of two percent on online poker wagers, according to the draft legislation.

The illegal online industry is worth around €7bn ($9bn) and comprises 25,000 sites, said Mr Woerth.

Related Links

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