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Exploring The Thrills And Regulations Of Gambling In France

Gambling in France is now legal. The legal gambling age was reduced from 21 to 18 in 1987. After previously being prohibited, slot machines became permitted in 1988.

Author:Luna Shadowsong
Reviewer:Scarlet Sunset
Nov 15, 20234K Shares118.6K Views
Gambling in Franceis now legal. The legal gambling age was reduced from 21 to 18 in 1987. After previously being prohibited, slot machines became permitted in 1988.
In France, the gambling business is regulated by two primary bodies: PMU (Pari Mutuel Urbain) and Française des Jeux (FDJ). PMU is in charge of horseracing, whereas FDJ is in charge of bettinggames and lotteries. The government owns both companies.
France authorized internet gambling in 2010. ARJEL ("Regulatory authority for online games") oversees it.

Gaming History In France

The gaming business in France dates back centuries; the nation is home to some of the world's oldest and most renowned casinos. Popular casinogames also had a hand in their emergence in France.
The Nobleman was replaced by the Queen as a staple of the deck in France sometime around the 1500s.
Blaise Pascal, a French mathematician, devised the roulette wheel in the 17th century, which led to the spread of the game of roulette. Parimutuel betting was developed in France around the year 1870.

Remote Gambling

Despite concerns from the Remote gaming Association, the French government enacted legislation in 2009 to partly open the gaming business to operators from other EU nations.
The measure provided harsh circumstances for new operators, such as restricted gambling offerings, an unfavorable taxation system, minimal player payouts, and tight criteria for retaining gaming servers on French territory.
The French gaming Act, Law No 2010-476, went into effect on May 13, 2010, launching the French online gaming sector.
It established the French Gambling Authority (ARJEL) and permitted three kinds of online gambling licenses: online sports betting, online horse racing betting, and online poker games.
Because politicians are concerned about addiction, casino games, spread betting, and betting exchanges are not licensed.
Online gambling was allowed in France right before the 2010 World Cup, with almost 1.2 million accounts established on licensed sites in the first month and €83 million bets, nearly twice as much as in 2009, when the only legal online betting option was state-owned betting websites.
The legislation permitted three kinds of online gambling licenses: sports betting, online horse race betting, and online poker games.

How French Gambling Habits Impact The Economy

French gamblers exhibit diverse spending habits, contributing significantly to the country's economy. While the majority invest a modest $81.1 annually, a select 10% allocate over $1,000 each year.
However, the financial impact extends beyond personal expenditure, as taxation plays a pivotal role in shaping the economic landscape. When a gambler secures winnings exceeding €1500 ($1640), a 13.7% tax rate is levied, adding a dimension of financial complexity to gambling profits.

Online Gambling Dominance And Regulatory Measures

France actively regulates its gambling sector, encompassing both traditional and online avenues. To operate legally, gambling entities, whether based in France or offshore, must secure a license from ANJ (Autorité nationale des jeux).
Two predominant monopolies, Française des Jeux (FDJ) overseeing the national lottery and Pari-Mutuel Urbain monopolizing horse betting, shape and regulate the gambling landscape.

Surging Revenue In Online Gambling

2021 witnessed France's online gambling sector achieving unprecedented success, with quarterly revenue surpassing $600 million. The surge is particularly notable in online gambling, where French individuals annually spend over $300.
The accessibility of online platforms through a variety of digital devices, along with the incorporation of cutting-edge technologies like blockchain, 3D animation, and virtual reality, heightens their allure.
Examining the demographics of online gamblers reveals intriguing patterns. In 2021, over 60% of French online gamblers fell within the 18–24 age group, showcasing a tech-savvy population's proclivity for digital gambling experiences.
The dominance of males, constituting 90% of online gaming accounts, reflects historical gender imbalances in the gambling sphere, often linked to perceptions of masculinity and thrill-seeking.

The Prosperous Realm Of Online Poker And Sports Betting

Due to convenience, sizable bonuses, and a wide variety of game options, the online poker market in France generated an astounding gross revenue of over $460 million in 2020.
Simultaneously, France's online sports betting industry flourished, reaching $1.5 billion in 2020 despite the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dynamic Growth In Sports Betting

France's sports betting sector emerges as a juggernaut, commanding 20% of the European sports betting market. With a market value of $4.7 billion in 2021, the industry reflects a consistent annual growth rate of 6% from 2017 to 2021.
Noteworthy is the digital transformation of sports betting, with 53% of accredited organizations dedicated to online sports betting.

Offline Gambling And Industry Resilience

France's offline gambling sector, featuring 300 casinos nationwide, faced a tumultuous period during the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary closures led to a 24% decline in market value in 2020, accounting for nearly $700 million.
Nevertheless, traditional gambling activities like lottery participation remained resilient, with 65% of gamblers purchasing lottery tickets in 2019.

Addressing Gambling Addictions And Social Impact

As the French government acknowledges the severity of gambling addiction, collaborations between ANJ and FODDA aim to address this issue alongside drug and tobacco-related problems.
Approximately 1.2 million individuals in France, constituting 1.7% of the population, grapple with gambling-related problems, leading to adverse consequences such as financial turmoil, job loss, and strained relationships.

Continued Market Growth And Economic Contributions

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, France's gambling market rebounded impressively in 2021, generating a gross revenue of $11.48 billion.
The casino sector, valued at $2.3 billion, contributes significantly to the globalmarket, reflecting the nation's rich gambling history. Projections indicate a 7.2% annual growth rate in the online gambling market, anticipating a $10 billion valuation by 2028.

Advertising As A Catalyst For Growth

Digital advertising plays a pivotal role in sustaining the gambling industry's growth, with 37% of operators relying on digital channels. A strategic blend of digital, television, and billboard advertisements ensures a continual influx of participants, contributing to the industry's economic vitality.

Gambling Legislation In France

France, steeped in Christian-Catholic tradition, historically shunned gambling, with a comprehensive ban on games of chance (Article L.320-1, French Code of Homeland Security). Over time, exemptions have emerged, shaping the landscape.
A pivotal moment came with the Ordinance of 2 October 2019, a response to the law of 22 May 2019 (Pacte Reform), empowering the government to reshape gambling regulations.

Key Transformations Introduced By The Ordinance Of 2 October 2019

Codification Of State Goals

The four overarching policy goals are now codified under the new Article L320-3 of the Homeland Security Code. These goals elucidate the current regulatory approach:
  • Prevent excessive gambling and protect minors.
  • Ensure the integrity, reliability, and transparency of gambling operations.
  • Prevent fraudulent, criminal activities, money laundering, and terrorism financing.
  • Ensure the balanced use of different types of gambling.

Privatization Of Française Des Jeux (FDJ) And Regulatory Empowerment

  • FDJ's privatization marked a significant shift, accompanied by the establishment of a robust regulator, the Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ). ANJ replaced the previous regulating authority, Autorité de Régulation des Jeux en Ligne (ARJEL), endowed with enhanced powers.
  • ANJ's authority extends to audit operators with exclusive rights, order commercial communication withdrawal, impose sanctions, issue framework decisions for game authorization, define terms for experimental game exploitation, and suspend or withdraw game authorizations.

Gambling Landscape Beyond Online Platforms

  • Casinos - The Homeland Security Code governs casino games in specific locations, including sea, thermal, and climatic resorts, tourist resort cities (excluding Paris), and French-flagged cruise ships, subject to authorization and conditions.
  • Gaming Clubs and Houses - Authorization by the Minister of Home Affairs empowers some gaming clubs and houses to offer card games and games of chance (Law 2017-257).
  • National Lottery - Legislated in 1933, the national lottery, operated by La Française des Jeux, holds a legal monopoly. La Française des Jeux also offers authorized sports betting games (Decree 85-390).
  • Horse Racing - Authorized horse racing companies offer pooled betting (pari mutuel) under the Law of 2 June 1891. Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) manages bets through a consortium (Decree 97-456).
  • Greyhound Race Companies - Authorized greyhound race companies, although less popular, can offer pooled betting under the Decree 83-922 dated 20 October 1983.
  • Online Gambling Operators - The new Article L.320-5 defines online gambling and operators. Online gambling involves exclusive participation through an online public communication service, and operators are entities offering gambling services with monetary interests.

Shifts In Regulatory Authority

The Ordinance of 2 October 2019 abolished ARJEL and birthed ANJ. The scope of ANJ's competence expanded beyond online gambling to include monopolies (FDJ and PMU) and combating excessive gambling in casinos. The Decree of 4 March 2020 delineates ANJ's powers and organizational structure.
France's gambling landscape, once anchored in prohibition, now reflects a nuanced regulatory framework. The evolution, which has been characterized by privatization, regulatory empowerment, and a recalibrated strategy, highlights France's commitment to striking a balance between tradition and the shifting dynamics of the gambling industry.

Online Gambling In France

The overall image of gambling in France is a bit of a paradox: it is a nation with a gambling history that dates back hundreds of years, yet stringent prohibitions still apply to many aspects of the sector today.
Although it is not immediately evident where players stand when wanting to bet online, gambling remains a popular activity for millions of French individuals, with the internet business developing slowly but steadily. Here is a rundown of some of the most important characteristics of gambling in France today.
The French Gambling Act, which came into effect in 2010, allowed state-backed operators to compete in online gambling, but still prohibits certain games like roulette and spread betting.
The Act also made online poker, sports betting, and horse racing betting legal, as they require knowledge or good play to win. The Gambling Act established ARJEL, the 'Regulatory Authority for Online Games', to supervise online gambling in France, taking a more proactive approach to tackling unapproved overseas operators.
ARJEL offers a list of permitted online gaming providers, allowing global players like PartyPoker and Poker Stars to compete with state-owned companies.

Markets Of Interest

France has several well-known land-based casinos, including roulette, blackjack, and baccarat, and slot machines, which were allowed in 1988 after the minimum gambling age was reduced from 21 to 18. Horse racing is the most popular form of betting, with many considering it a national hobby.
The sport benefits from the tax money that gambling organizations collect. The Tour de France, the world's largest yearly athletic event, does not elicit as much interest from bettors as horse racing.
However, companies like Paddy Power and William Hill offer odds on the competition's overall winner to British bettors. Handball, a lesser-known sport, is also popular in France, with the French national team being the current Olympic and World Champion. Numerous sports books provide French handball markets to British customers.

Betting On French Football

Football, as it is in many Western European nations, must be designated as the "national sport." As the most popular spectator sport in the country, it is also one of the most popular sport options for French gamblers, who have two main leagues to wager on in the domestic football betting markets - Ligue 1 and Ligue 2.
The legalization of internet gambling boosted football betting in France, with the 2010 World Cup bringing in more than €83 million, about double the amount wagered in the same time the previous year, when online gambling was not yet regulated by ARJEL.
People are talking while playing in Casino
People are talking while playing in Casino

The Gambling Future In France

Despite the fact that online gambling appears to be hampered in France by strict regulation and overt concern about 'chance' games, there is significant interest in these types of games in other parts of Europe, and it is possible that the French government will legalize them in due course due to public demand.
In recent years, the gambling business has expanded throughout Europe, with the French horse betting, sports betting, and lottery sectors all rising considerably as a result of the rise of online operators.
As a consequence, many believe that it would be astonishing if France continued to exclude its citizens from participating in online casinogames permanently.

Gambling In France - FAQs

What Are The Recent Changes In French Gambling Regulations?

France has undergone significant changes in its gambling regulations, particularly with the Ordinance of 2 October 2019. This ordinance brought about notable transformations, including the codification of state goals and the privatization of Française des Jeux (FDJ).

How Does The Autorité Nationale Des Jeux (ANJ) Differ From The Previous Regulating Authority (ARJEL)?

ANJ, established after the Ordinance of 2 October 2019, replaced ARJEL and comes with strengthened powers. It extends its authority beyond online gambling to supervise monopolies (FDJ and PMU) and addresses concerns related to excessive gambling in casinos.

What Is The Role Of Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) In French Horse Racing?

Authorized under the Law of 2 June 1891, PMU plays a crucial role in managing pooled betting (pari mutuel) for horse racing companies in France. The Decree of 5 May 1997 further outlines PMU's responsibilities in this context.

Can Gaming Clubs And Houses Offer Card Games And Games Of Chance In France?

Certain gaming clubs and houses can offer card games and games of chance, but this is contingent upon receiving authorization from the Minister of Home Affairs, as per the provisions of Law 2017-257.

How Has The Gambling Landscape In France Evolved Since The Enactment Of The Homeland Security Code?

The Homeland Security Code, enacted on 1 May 2012, has played a pivotal role in shaping France's gambling regulations. From governing casino games to online gambling, this legal framework has undergone changes, with recent amendments reflecting the dynamic nature of the industry.

Final Words

A complex regulatory framework and a nuanced history define the gambling landscape in France. From the long-standing prohibition of gambling due to Christian-Catholic traditions to the gradual exemptions and reforms introduced over the years, the industry has undergone significant transformations.
The recent Ordinance of 2 October 2019 and the establishment of the Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) have brought about notable changes, emphasizing goals such as preventing excessive gambling and ensuring transparency.
The privatization of Française des Jeux (FDJ) and the role of Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) in horse racing contribute to the diverse facets of the gambling sector.
The future trajectory of France's gambling industry will continue to be dynamic as it strikes a balance between tradition and modernity, with regulatory changes, technological advancements, and shifting consumer preferences shaping it.
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Luna Shadowsong

Luna Shadowsong

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