April 07, 2010

France votes on bill to legalise online gambling

After a week of tense debate, France’s National Assembly votes Tuesday on a bill to legalise online gambling and open up the French market to international operators. If adopted, the law will come into effect ahead of the South African World Cup in July.

The bill is almost certain to be passed, despite fierce opposition from the left, who argue it is dangerous, particularly to young people.

Virtual poker machines and games of chance are not included because they are considered too addictive to be legalised.

The bill already passed through a first reading by the Senate in February, and has been before the National Assembly since 30 March.

Budget Minister François Baroin said the law would put an end to the “wild and anarchistic” development of internet gambling.

“I am convinced this solution will allow us to gradually drain the black-market of online gaming by creating a legal alternative," he said.

French laws governing online gambling are among the most restrictive in Europe, designed to protect the country’s lucrative PMU and Francaise des Jeux gambling monopolies.

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