Gambling in France has a very long history as an industry and has contributed greatly to the development of popular casino games that exist today. In fact, this country has some of the oldest and most well-known gambling establishments that are located in its territory. The culture of gambling in this country goes back hundreds of years and has remained a popular pastime for millions of French citizens who enjoy playing for money. The online gambling market is growing slowly but surely as well over the years.
The country started offering licenses to non-French gambling companies in 2010, wherein they are allowed to operate online for five years prior to renewal of license. Although gambling has been always present for many ages in the country, it seems that there are still strong restrictions that remain in the gambling industry today. All gambling activities in France are regulated by the Subdivision of Races and Games (SRG) or Soud Direction des Courses et des Jeus. There are approximately 160 casinos that are licensed by the state of France.
Subdivision of Races and Games (SRG)
The SRG is a division of the Ministry of the Interior that was established in 1973 to regulate all gaming operations throughout France. This division is tasked to provide licenses, monitor and regulate online casinos in the country that are privately owned.
The French government does not directly regulate the casinos. However, through the SRG, the casino operators together with its equipment suppliers are heavily regulated since the coordination of both operators and game suppliers is crucial. This is because operators are faced with restrictions regarding the games that are allowed to offer to the players as well as the extent of exposure of the public to the gambling games.
Gambling Legislation in France
Gambling in France has long been totally prohibited since it somewhat violates the Christian- Catholic tradition of the country. In fact, there is a general ban on some types of gambling especially those relating to games of chance as stated in Article L. 324-1 of the French Code of Homeland Security (Security Code). The Security Code covers a significant part of the gambling regulations that are stated in the French Law. Over the years, several exemptions were allowed which led to the authorization of certain gambling activities in the country, with the condition that these activities be only offered by authorized operators or in specific venues. Other gambling activities are subject to specific laws and regulation under the French Government’s jurisdiction. The licenses are granted by an efficient and competent regulatory body for a period of five years, unless violations may be committed. Renewal options are also possible if proven qualified by the regulatory authorities.
Here are some regulations imposed on different gambling operations under the Security Code:
Under the Finance Law 1933, the government of France was authorized to organize a national lottery. The national lottery is legally monopolized in France and is operated by the La Francaise des Jeus which is also authorized to sports betting games.
Horse Racing companies that are authorized to hold their games are permitted to organize pooled betting on their races. A consortium called Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) is entrusted to manage the betting events on horse racing events.
Sports Betting is a legal gambling activity in France since 1985. This gambling activity, however, has been subjected to monopoly by the La Française des Jeux (FDJ) which also holds the monopoly on lottery games in the French territory. FDJ is considered a giant in the French Gambling Market. However, with the establishment of the Online Gambling Law, FDJ obtained a license as an operator of online gambling and had competitors as it ventured to other gambling forms such as poker. Because of the Online Gambling Law, its scope would only cover land-based sports betting if the monopoly still exists in the present.
Greyhound Race Companies
Greyhound racing is not really popular in France, however, greyhound race companies that are authorized by the regulating body are allowed to organize pool betting events on their racing events.
The casino games being held in climatic resorts, cruise ships flying the French flag, as well as cities considered as tourist resorts, except for Paris, are regulated and authorized under certain conditions by the Security Code. Casinos are licensed with the involvement of public authorities at both national and local levels. A casino must obtain a license from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Gaming Clubs and Houses
While there is a general ban on games relating to games of chance, regulators made an exemption to allow these types of games if authorized by the Minister of Home Affairs. Authorizes gaming houses are allowed to offer club card games such as poker, tarot, and rummy. In fact, they are allowed to offer fewer games than casinos. Unlike casinos, gaming clubs are not subject to specific geographical restrictions.
Online Gambling in France
Online gambling is separately regulated from the land casinos and is rather limited when it comes to games, more particularly with poker. In relation to this, French citizens can only wager on online sites that are approved and licensed by the online gaming regulators of France. However, in the recent years, France has loosened its restrictions and has allowed entry of foreign online gambling operators in the French gambling market.
In 2010, France has amended its gaming laws to allow Internet poker as well as to provide a license to online gaming operators from other countries to offer their services to their market. While it is said that the country has loosened its legal restrictions, it remained strict with its financial charges for operating online gambling sites in which they remain higher than those charges required in other markets.
French Gambling Act
Casino games such as roulette, online slots, poker, and other popular casino games of chance were basically not allowed to operate online in the early years as they were all deemed too addictive by lawmakers. However, in 2010, The French Gambling Act was established and opened up the online gambling sector but laws still restricted the mentioned games. This act is also responsible for online poker, horse racing betting and sports betting to be completely legal.
Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL)
Online gambling operations are regulated by ARJEL. It is an independent administrative authority that is established for the enforcement regulations set to organize online gambling activities. Basically, it is responsible for the implementation of online wagering laws, collecting fees and charges from online gambling operators and monitoring illegal gambling activities online.
The law on online gambling implements qualitative regulations on horse betting, sports betting and circle games such as poker. ARJEL issues licenses to companies (whose operations fall on these categories) if they comply with the standards set by the regulatory body such as its financial strength as well as its technical capacity. ARJEL also ensures that all licensees comply with all legal and regulatory obligations. It can also initiate a sanction to operators if the regulations are not followed accordingly.
Operators must submit these following information to ARJEL in order to proceed with the licensing procedure:
- Basic Identification Information
- Company’s Organizational Structure
- List of Top Management and Ownership Information
- List of persons or entities holding more than 5% interest in the company
- Information showing financial stability
- Criminal, civil, and administrative action history
Application and Renewal
Land-based Gambling Operators
Before a casino can start its gambling operations, the operator must acquire a formal authorization from the Ministry of Home Affairs and an agreement with the host city to where the casino will be put up. The operators are subjected to different public authorities for regulation.
Online Gambling Operators
Online gambling operators applying for a license to operate online are required to submit a separate application for each gambling category they wish to offer. A company can obtain three types of license from ARJEL which can grant operators a five-year renewable license.
An operator applying for a license from ARJEL must submit these following requirements:
- Gambling Website
- The framework of Gambling Services it intends to operate
- Player Accounts
- Action plan against problem gambling, fraud, and other illegal activities
- IT Structure
- Contingency Plans, etc.
The license fee varies on the number of applications the operators would want to apply.
Single Application: €5,000; Annual Fee: €20,000
Two Applications: €8,000; Annual Fee: €30,000
Three Applications: €10,000; Annual Fee: €40,000
Gambling operators are required to prevent minors, whose ages are below 18 years of legal age, from participating in any gambling activities. However, exemptions are allowed wherein minors can participate in specific games such as lotteries and traditional bingo for a non-profit cause, fairground activities. Licensees are also required to validate the age of their players upon registration to their websites. The website must also feature an age warning stating restriction to minors that may want to enter the casino. A section advising responsible gambling, as well as prevention and rehabilitation for problem gambling and addiction.
Protection Against Gambling Addiction
Any players who wish to treat their gambling addiction can file a request to be included on the list of compulsive gamblers to the Ministry of Home Affairs. The request will be coordinated with the casino, gaming club, and other gambling operators. All gambling operators must include features or program to their operations that aim to protect the players against gambling addiction.
Licensed operators are required to:
- Include mechanisms for players to withdraw from games voluntarily
- Display information on the site about the existing list of players with gambling problems
- Terminate account of players with a gambling problem
- Require players to set a weekly limit on withdrawals and deposit
Sanctions for Non-Compliance
Illegal Online Gambling Operation
Operating online gambling services with the absence of a license to operate is illegal, much more if the gambling service targets French users. This offense is punishable by law and sanctions wherein offenders can be fined with €90,000 and up to three years of imprisonment. If the offense is made by an organized group, the sanction for illegal gambling can increase in the amount to €200,000 and seven years imprisonment.
Sanction to Licensed Online Gambling Operators
Failing to comply with the protocol and the regulations under the online gambling law can imply punishment in accordance to the sanction imposed by either the law or regulatory board. Some of the sanctions that can be expected are the following:
- A warning from ARJEL
- Reduction of the duration of the license of up to one year
- Suspension of license for up to three months
- Cancellation or withdrawal of license
- Prohibition from applying or renewal of license for up to three years
The amount of tax the casinos are charged is progressive and will depend on the total amount of the casino’s gross gambling revenue. Players are taxed with 12% taxation in excess of €1,500 casino gains. The tax is collected directly by the casino.
Online casinos accepting players from France
The following online casinos are listed as being available to players from France:
Sun Palace Casino, Vegas Casino Online, Jackpot Capital Casino, Slots Plus Casino, Winward Casino, Sloto’ Cash, Slots Capital, Raging Bull Casino, Lincoln Casino, Inetbet Online Casino, Celtic Casino, Fairway Casino, Captain Jack, Silver Oak, Botemania, Win A Day, Old Havana Casino, Diamond Reels Casino, Uptown Aces Casino, Gunsbet Casino, Mongoose Casino, La Fiesta Casino, Uptown Pokies, Desert Nights Casino, Wild Casino, Camponbet Casino, Ace Pokies, Vive Mon Casino, Oddsking Casino, Machance Casino, LuckyBetz Casino, Mega7s Casino, Cryptoslots Casino, Bet Swagger Casino, Black Diamond Casino, Mega Vegas Casino, Untold Casino, Lord of the Spins Casino, Chili Spins Casino, Crushit Casino, Fair Go Casino, Split Aces Casino, Camspins, 21.Com, Cozino, Spela Casino, Slotage Casino, Mr Bit Casino, 24Vip Casino, Spellandet, Liberty Slots, Red Tag Casino.
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