The global transformation of the casino industry is slowly advancing as online gambling continues to become more popular. France might add its name to the growing list of legal online casino countries if a bill that arrived this week finds success.
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks in front of lawmakers. The government is exploring a new bill that wants to legalize online casinos. (Image: Agence France-Presse)
Currently, online casinos are still prohibited in France because of a lack of legislation. Online poker and sports betting, however, are legal.
Witnessing the changes in the market and an increasing interest in online gambling, French lawmaker Philippe Latombe drafted Bill 1248. It’s an attempt to significantly, but slowly, expand the online gambling segment, and is already in front of the National Assembly.
One Step at a Time
Latombe rightly asserts that online casinos are becoming more popular, and with no legal option for the French, they’re turning to offshore sites. This results in no consumer protections, a lack of attention to potential gambling harms, and less revenue for the government.
Faced with these developments, it appears that the absolute prohibition regime is de facto not very protective for consumers. This justifies raising the question of the evolution of the French legal framework in order to adapt it to new practices,” reads French Bill 1248 (translated).
The first step to address these issues is to legalize online casino games. This would allow France to begin rolling out a new regulated market similar to the land-based casino market already in place.
Expecting resistance from the land-based casino industry, Latombe has a solution. Only casino operators would initially be allowed to apply for an online license. This limitation would remain in place until 2030, after which any operator could seek entry into the online gaming space.
The taxes and fees for operating an online gaming platform would be identical to those the land-based segment pays, according to the bill. In addition, only those gambling options currently authorized for land-based casinos would be permitted in the online segment.
The bill has already been handed to the Committee on Constitutional Laws, Legislation, and General Administration of France’s Parliament. It’s too early for any updates and there doesn’t seem to be a hurry to move it forward.
The bill specifically indicates a “five-year moratorium” during which only licensed casinos would qualify to operate online. Since it also specifies “until 2030,” the new segment might not launch until 2025.
Not the First Time
This isn’t the first time an effort has been made to bring online casinos to France. As far back as 2005, different lawmakers have tried to find ways to legalize the online sector.
In 2010, the French National Assembly approved the French Gambling Act, which legalized online gambling. That measure also limited the available options and was primarily an attempt to open the sports betting market ahead of that year’s World Cup.
Online casinos were never included because lawmakers considered them “too addictive” compared to sports betting and poker. Both of these, according to lawmakers, are games of skill, not of chance. To them, this means they’re safer than other forms of gambling.
With more people using online gaming platforms, legal or otherwise, priorities over what makes or breaks a legislative bill change. Where previous attempts to greenlight online casinos have failed, this time may be different.
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