The gambling industry in France: a historical issue

18 December 2017

The link between France and gambling always has been strong… and could even be described as historic.

The country largely contributed to the development of gambling through time with the creation of inescapable games such as roulette (by the mathematician Blaise Pascal) and the 52 card game which gave birth to Baccarat or Shimmy (also known as Chernay).

As a consequence, it feels natural for gambling to be legal in France. But to settle on this territory, you must have a license from by several organisations:
• for betting activities: Pari Mutuel Hippodrome (PMH) and Pari Mutuel Urbain(PMU);
• for bingo lotteries and sports betting, only the Française des Jeux (FDJ) keeps the monopoly on land base activities.

Some conditions must however be respected if you want to offer gambling activities in France. For example, physical casinos can only be established in seaside and tourist towns (except Paris) and on some cruise ships with the French flag.

What about online gambling?
Since 2010, online gambling is regulated by the Autorité de Régulation des Jeux en Ligne (ARJEL), which can authorise licenses for club games (until now, only the poker is allowed), sports betting and horse races. Online casino games are forbidden in France.

Fifteen licenses have been issued by the ARJEL so far. This particularly low number of licenses can be explained by high tax rates which can frighten some operators.

However, the market is doing well as the third quarter of 2017 results show: an increase by 23% of the revenues linked to sports betting despite a year without international competition, a 10% growth of horse racing revenues and +5% for poker.

France is a market which needs to be followed especially as online casinos should be authorised very soon. The 2018 Football World Cup, with a French team considered as favorite for this new edition, should also contribute to the sector’s success thanks to high sports betting revenues.