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Online gambling in France, is it legal

In France you can enjoy all kinds of gambling from casino-style card games and slots, sports betting and betting on horse racing. In fact, the French have a long history with gambling.

  • In the 1500’s, the French were the first to add the Queen to the deck of cards.
  • In the 17th century, the French mathematician Blaise Pascal invented the roulette wheel, which later led to the introduction of the popular game of roulette.
  • The game 21, “vingt-et-un” is thought to have originated in French casinos around 1700 A.D. and migrated to the United States around the 1800’s.
  • Even Blackjack is thought to have originated from a French card game called “chemin de fer” which translates to “railroad”.
  • In 1997, the gambling age was lowered from 21 to 18.
  • In 1988, slot machines became legal after previously being banned.

Today most forms of gambling are legal but the French gambling industry is strictly regulated.

As of 2015, there are about 188 casinos in and around France. In an attempt to stop gambling from becoming an addiction, the Justice Ministry only allows gambling at specific times and in specific places.

However, when we look at online gambling in France, it’s a completely different story.

In March of 2009, France proposed new laws to regulate and tax Internet gambling. “Rather than banning 25,000 websites, licenses were given out to online gambling sites who respected public and social order. These new gambling laws have come under criticism as the new law only allows sports betting and betting on horse races, with all other traditional casino games still being illegal.

In June 2010, the government implemented significant changes to the national gambling laws again to allow for both the regulation and taxation of foreign-based internet casino, online poker, bingo and sports betting sites. Prior to this, only national companies were given permission to operate gambling sites online, with Francaise des Jeux and the PMU being market leaders.

France has since issued dozens of licences to offshore gambling companies so that their services can become available for French players.

Players in France feeling frustrated -unable to access their online gambling and poker accounts.

However, due to the fact that French law doesn’t allow unlicensed online bookmakers and poker rooms or any kind of online casino, many players in France have been left feeling frustrated- unable to access their online gambling and poker accounts. Furthermore, the punitive tax regime adopted by the government has proved to be very detrimental to poker operators. Players are required to pay 2% on all cash game pots, with sports betting attracting a 7.5% tax on each bet placed and horse racing bets attracting an 8% levy. In addition, 33% corporate income tax is also payable.

Some players have managed to find ways to bypass the legislation:

  • Using a foreign postal address
  • Hiding their IP address
  • Using third parties to make deposits for them
  • Changing their IP address- a tactic that is often used by British holidaymakers who still want to access their UK accounts while visiting France.

Can I play online bingo in France?

The French online bingo industry is still very much in its infancy, although the recently modified laws have helped to facilitate its growth. To take advantage of the legislation changes, online bingo operators in France have introduced some French variants, which have proved to be very popular with the local population.

What happens if a player tries to bet on an unlicensed site?

If you try to access an unlicensed site while in France you’ll probably find one of the following things will happen:

  1. You’ll be unable to access the site
  2. You’ll see a message advising you that you’re not allowed to join the particular site.
  3. You’ll be directed to the French equivalent, if available.
  4. You may be able to register if you use a UK address. Most UK bookies will allow you to register and won’t acknowledge your location, although most operators to take steps to identify your location once you have registered.

How can an operator verify my location?

When you sign up with an unlicensed bookmaker, three pieces of information can be used to identify your location.

  • Your IP address
  • Your registered home address.
  • The address registered on your credit card

You’ll also receive an email asking you to prove that you’re in the UK, with some operators choosing to suspend your account if you can’t do so, with others giving you a period of up to two weeks in which to provide proof of address. You’ll also be asked for a reason for using a French IP address.

Is it possible to disguise your location?

It is possible to get around the IP address check by changing your IP address to mask your PC’s location by using a VPN.  Some players have also discovered a way to obtain a postal address in the UK, and use various forms of secure payment methods, including pre-payment options to avoid giving details of their French bank accounts.

In spite of the restrictions placed on the online gambling industry in France, it still manages to show signs of modest growth.

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