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Online Gambling in France

For many years, gambling in France has been very severely regulated. Casinos and card game salons are ever under close scrutiny, and stiffly taxed.

Betting on horse races has been a monopoly of the "Pari Mutuel Urbain" (PMU) since it was created in 1920. Lotteries have been a state monopoly since 1933, when the "Loterie Nationale" was created.

Part of its proceeds were dedicated to subsidizing WW 1 injured and maimed veterans. It was replaced in 1976 by the "Franšaise des Jeux" (FdJ) which, in addition to the National Loto, has had the monopoly on sports gambling (except for horse races, which remain the privilege of PMU).

Until then, gambling on sports was strictly forbidden here. In compensation for these monopolies and stiff taxes, gambling gains are free of income tax for the winners.

But in May 2010, both the PMU and FdJ have lost their monopoly. The French state has had to bow to the inevitable - and to European Union rules.

Online gambling sites may now officially accept French participants. Conversely, French gamblers may now legally gamble online. As a counterpart for this new freedom, online gambling sites that operate in France are submitted to the same close scrutiny as casinos and gambling salons, and to similar (albeit lower) taxation.

They also must implement safeguards to prevent legal minors, and people who've been barred from casinos, from logging on and placing bets or playing card games. A special police squad has been created specifically to watch over these sites and make sure the regulations are enforced.

Monopolies La Francaise Des Jeux (FDJ) and Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU) have both taken significant measures to enhance both their brands and their product offerings.

FDJ, the French national lottery operator and the second largest lottery operator in the world, acquired LVS last month, the betting software supplier that in January won the contract to deliver fixed-odds sports betting online for FDJ once the French online sports betting market opens.

PMU, the largest horse racing monopoly in Europe, signed a deal for PartyGaming to provide it with an online poker product last month, its second tie with a high-profile egaming operator after November's agreement for Paddy Power to provide it with fixed-odds risk management and pricing tools.