All forms of gambling are regulated and legal in France.
Brick-and-mortar operations may host card games, casino games,
sportsbooks, and racing betting while online operations may offer
all the same except casino games. All-in-all, France is a
It’s not all smooth sailing in France though. High taxes and
excessive regulation make it difficult for licensed gaming sites
to stay in business. Nearly half of the gaming sites that
acquired licenses in 2010 have since left the market. The high
taxes on poker pots and sports bets also affect players, which
has resulted in large numbers of players choosing to do business
with unlicensed foreign sites.
The good news is gamblers have options. Since there are no
laws that criminalize playing at unlicensed sites, players can
choose from the whole assortment of licensed and unlicensed
sites. If you like what you see at a French-legal gaming site,
you’re good to go. If you’d rather gamble somewhere else, you
can choose from a wide range of other options.
How Online Gambling is Regulated in France
The biggest change in gaming law in recent history happened
in 2010. After pressure from the EU to end its restrictive
gaming laws, the French government passed the Gambling Act (Law
number 2010-476). The act created the Regulatory Authority for
Online Games (ARJEL) whose responsibility it became to license
and regulate online gambling in France.
The Gambling Act was important for players, because it
disbanded the government monopoly that existed previous to the
passage of the law. Now, the French market was open to
competition from other EU gaming sites. 35 companies applied for
licenses and became the first non-government entities to offer
online poker, sports betting, and horse racing betting.
French politicians chose not to include traditional casino
games such as roulette, slot machines, and table games because they
felt those games would be too addictive. To this day,
traditional casino games aren’t offered by French-licensed
Some of the bigger names to get licenses included PokerStars,
Party Poker, and Everest Poker. About a dozen sports betting
organizations also received licenses. The introduction of
competition to the market was a good thing for players, but
there was one problem: taxes.
The Gambling Act called for excessive taxes on both poker and
sports betting. All poker pots are taxed 2% in addition to the
rake poker sites normally take out of pots. To this day, players
pay upwards of 7.5% in total rake (compared to an industry
average of 4-5%) on every pot.
Sports betting was hit with an 8.5% tax on all bets placed.
Both sports betting and poker suffer from these taxes. Players
complain that the higher tax rates result in a
higher-than-normal rake in poker and less likelihood of making
money with sports betting. Several poker sites have even left
the market due to the onerous tax laws.
To top it all off, the Gambling Act doesn’t allow player
pools to be shared across national borders. This means French
players are cut off from the international poker scene. When you
play on a licensed French poker site, you only play with people
who are located in France. This has caused liquidity problems
for licensed sites as they find it difficult to keep the games
running with a limited player pool.
The high taxes and restricted player pool have led to many
players choosing to play at unlicensed sites headquartered out
of other countries. The French gambling market has great
potential, but it’s stifled by the burdensome regulations and
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