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While online casino games remain illegal in France, it is possible for users to bet remotely on sports, horse racing, and poker.
Although the Catholic heritage of France has previously inhibited the growth of gambling in the nation, there has been a gradual relaxation in several markets. While some forms of gambling are now permitted in France, there are still markets that remain banned, as will be revealed below.
Despite spawning the roulette wheel in the 17th century, change has evolved slowly in France. One of the first milestones occurred in 1987 when the French authorities chose lower the minimum age of gambling from 21 to 18, which followed the legalisation of sports betting in 1985. A year later, the French gambling market then welcomed the legalisation of slot machines.
As for the authorities, there are three bodies that are responsible for regulating the gambling markets that are available in France. When it comes to land-based gambling, Française des Jeux (FDJ) is the state-owned body responsible for regulating betting games and lotteries while Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) handles the horse racing market.
The third body is not as old, having been set up in 2010 with the legalisation of a handful of online gambling markets. Known as ARJEL, the National Gaming Authority of France approves of sports betting, horse racing, and online poker at the time of writing, though not the regulation of online casino sites.
Relaxation of Legislation
Prior to 2010, the European Commission (EC) started investigating the French gambling industry in 2005 and served notice to the government, in 2007, that the country was not compliant with the regulation of the European Union (EU). By 2009, plans were drawn up to establish ARJEL and begin to legislate a legal online gambling industry in the nation.
In May 2010, the French Gambling Act was introduced and granted operators the opportunity to apply for licences that would enable them to host three online services to cover sports, horse racing, and poker. However, the act neglected to include the option of online casino games, spread betting, and sports betting exchanges.
As it stands, there are no online casinos that are allowed to operate legally. Any casino sites that attempt to provide services to French residents are doing so illegally from an offshore location. The more recently established National Gambling Authority (ANJ), which has replaced ARJEL, is responsible for investigating French internet service providers and subsequently block access to offshore operators that are in breach with legislative measures.
While online casino sites are currently outlawed in French, it can be possible to find land-based casinos. Despite Paris being excluded in terms of legality, there are resorts and cities in the country where casinos are allowed to operate. However, the operators are required to generate more than 40% of revenue from cultural sources and not gambling.
There are further gambling services that can be played in France, including a national lottery that was legalised as far back as 1993. Citizens can also bet on a variety of sports, including football and rugby, as well as horse racing, which has accepted bets since the 19th century. Further options include gambling clubs, greyhound racing, and cockfight betting.