A ‘draft proposal’ has been submitted to the French government which aims to regulate iCasinos, bringing a new igaming segment into play for France’s gambling market.
The proposal is sponsored by Philippe Latombe, an MP of the governing En Marche party, who stated that “French gambling remains very restrictive and constrained”.
The Gambling Law of 2010 opened the French market to licensed online sports betting, poker and horseracing bets, but prohibited online casinos – a decree contested by several international firms.
Submitting the draft proposal, Latombe cited that “the prohibition in force against online casinos has therefore reached its limits, even if the authorities attempt to identify and block illegal sites using court orders.”
“The modernisation of a legislative framework related to the opening of online casinos is therefore imperative”.
Consequently, the prohibition of online casinos has not served its purpose of protecting French consumers, who have chosen to play on unlicensed websites, which Latombe deemed as a “cybersecurity threat to France”.
The inefficiencies of France’s current regulatory framework for gambling are outlined by the draft proposal detailing existing integrity issues, changing consumer behaviours and “cyber threats which challenge France’s digital sovereignty.”
To safeguard the transformation of France’s gambling marketplace, it is proposed that a ‘five-year moratorium’ be adopted in which only France’s current authorised land-based casino operators can secure iCasino licences.
Once the five-year moratorium is concluded, the full opening of France’s online casino marketplace to foreign competition would take place from January 2030, allowing competition with foreign operators active elsewhere in Europe.
However, the proposal of a ‘five-year moratorium’ will likely be contested by foreign operators at an EU level as a restrictive business practice which favours domestic businesses.
Light on legislative technicalities, on taxation, it is proposed that online casino games should be subject to the “same levies operated by the State and local authorities as their physical counterparts”.
Replicating a requirement imposed on land-based casinos, it is proposed that the online counterpart be subject to monitoring by Supply and Maintenance Companies (SFM).
The SFMs, which monitor and allow machine game purchases for individual casinos, are deemed as the “institutional guarantors and trusted third parties, they possess extensive experience and the technical know-how to ensure a safe and lawful shift to online gambling.”
Should the proposal gain support, Latombe warned ministers of their duties to protect French business from a “sudden shift could adversely impact the economic equilibrium of municipalities hosting casinos, with potential repercussions on employment within the sector”.