The general picture of gambling within France presents something of a paradox. It is a country with a rich culture of gambling that stretches back at least three hundred years, yet the government has set strong restrictions for many parts of the gaming industry. It’s not immediately clear where French players stand when they’re looking to have a wager online. Despite this grey area, gambling remains a really popular pastime for millions of French citizens.
The title is a bit ambitious, as theologically, gambling is prohibited. That aside, France has taken steps to regulate gambling. The legislation came into force back in 2010 (the French Gambling Act) which at least opened up the online gambling sector for state-backed operators, but the laws still forbid spread betting and exchanges like Betfair.
Online poker, sports and horse racing betting were all made completely legal by the French Gambling Act. A regulatory body known as ARJEL (Regulatory Authority for Online Games), was formed by the Gambling Act and specifically supervises all online gambling in France. Unlike other countries, France is taking an active approach to ensure their rules are adhered to, barring offshore sportsbooks and casinos.
Similar to most of its European neighbours, the French are highly active in sports gambling. An active Frenchman is known to stake an average of €11 per bet, and the most staked events include Ligue 1 Football, Tennis and Basketball.
Stats, Facts and Figures
It is well documented by many a network that the gambling industry in France generated a Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) of €9.75 billion in 2016, compared to generating €9.53 billion in 2015.
In 2016, the Casino GGR in France alone totalled to approximately 2.26 billion euros which amount to more than what most countries make through gambling. The GGR generated by online gambling was set to amount to €0.81 billion in 2016, compared to 2015’s €0.75 billion – a 7.5% increase.
Official Licensing Body In France And Licensees
Like most countries, gambling in France is bisected into land-based and networked (online) sectors. Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) and Francais des Jeux (FDJ) are the licensing bodies for land-based gambling in France. Here, the PMU promotes gambling in the horse racing community while the FDJ is responsible for other sports and lotteries. On the other hand, online gambling in France is controlled by the ARJEL (Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne – eng.: Regulatory Authority for Online Games).
Did You Know?
Even though the French invented roulette, you could land yourself in very hot water if you play the game in France as the game is illegal within the country! This is due to the new gambling laws that the government enforced in the early twenty-first century.