Legal framework for a liberalized gambling market

An article by Thibault Verbiest, attorney-at-law, attorney at the Paris and Brussels Bars (Ulys) and Cooperation Partner of Hambach & Hambach Law Firm

On June 11, 2008, the French Government announced it would open its gaming markets as a result of pressure from the European Commission. The main features of the new liberalized gaming law have been announced. However, because the legal process to open the French gaming market is still at a political stage, the new law is still an evolving work in progress and amendments are quite probable. Moreover, the implementation of the new legal framework may not begin until the second half of 2009.

Opening up the French gaming market will primarily be directed at online gaming (which excludes offline gaming such as lotteries, which will remain within the scope of the State monopoly “la Française des Jeux”, as Casinos being subject to special authorizations of the Ministry of Home Affairs and as Gaming Clubs (Cercles de Jeux) or Phone Gaming).

Online gaming which may be authorized under the new gaming law regime includes:
  • betting on sport events;
  • mutual betting on horse races and fixed odds betting for all other sports betting;
  • poker and maybe a limited number of other games currently offered in Casinos and Gaming Clubs (“Cercles de jeux”), such as backgammon.
The first licences should be granted to operators by the end of 2009 or at the beginning of 2010.

As a result, betting on virtual events, the financial market, spread betting or on results that are not linked to a true sports event are excluded from the liberalization of the French gaming laws. These games will remain prohibited under the new gaming law, as is the case under current French law.

In addition, lotteries and slot machines will be excluded from the new law, even for online versions. As far as French Casinos are concerned, the restrictions for online lotteries and slot machines represent their main point of contention because it prevents the French Casinos from developing a very lucrative business activity within the „information society.“

Source: TIME LAW NEWS 1/2009 (www.timelaw.de) by Law Firm Hambach & Hambach