Active Players: 30.000.000
Regulated Gambling Products: sports betting, casino games, poker, lotteries, keno, scratch cards
Operator types: Online bookmakers, state run betting shops (FDJ), land based casinos, state regulated horse races (PMU)
Designated Authority: Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL)
Status: Regulated for licensed online betting sites in France, FDJ shops & state run Parions Sport Online
France is located in western Europe and is one of the most historic countries when it comes to gambling. This is the birthplace of the roulette, blackjack and the very first regulated horse racing wagers. Despite France’s liberal heritage, online sports betting has come through many ups and downs before finally being legalized and successfully regulated. Nowadays French players mostly punt on football betting, on about 11 licensed online bookmakers or the state run Française des Jeux (FDJ) betting shops.
Did you know that?
- France has 160 brick & mortar casinos, where you can play casino games, poker & bet on sportsbook. However, online casinos are not allowed to operate.
- You must pay from 2% up to 8% tax on every pot you win on poker. Sports betting and horse racing winnings are tax free since 2016.
- No betting exchange & spread betting websites operate in France, due to high taxation.
- Players must be at least 18 years of age before they can open a bookie account.
- It is not illegal to punt on unlicensed bookmakers, however those are usually blocked from your internet provider.
Top 3 bookmakers in France
Currently only 11 licensed online betting firms offer their services to French punters. This relatively low pool of betting sites is due to the 33% corporation taxes imposed by the government, which significantly limits their potential profits. Additionally, betting exchange sites, such as Betfair, are required to offer 4% lowered payouts to their players, as each and every single bet (winning or not) is taxed. There are currently 3 different licenses concerning: sports betting, horse races and texas hold em & omaha poker. Apart from the licensed online providers, French bettors can choose to place their bets on any of the state owned FDJ betting shops, on FDJ’s website Parions Sport Online, or on any unlicensed bookie, at their own discretion.
France isn’t exactly the most player friendly country when it comes to online betting. The high taxes on poker tables, limited sports betting sites options and lack of online casinos, mean that online gambling has a long way to go before it can truly fulfill its potential. Additionally, despite the fact that 35 online bookies offer their sportsbook in French, internet service providers are forced to block unlicensed sports betting sites. Some players have found a way around this, however, they choose to punt at their own risk, as the French regulatory authority will not intervene to protect their financial rights. On the other hand, ARJEL is considered one of the strictest regulatory bodies, meaning that you will have your back covered in case a licensed bookie tries to scam you.
Competition among bookmakers
With only 11 licensed bookmakers and a monopoly on land based shops, competition is almost non existent between the betting sites in France. If you add the fact that companies are heavily taxed, to the amount that they had a deficit of 5% in 2015, you come to understand why sports odds are relatively low and why a new legal frame is desperately needed.
Despite the draconian measures implemented by ARJEL, there are countless ways you can choose to make a deposit or withdrawal. Bank cards, e-wallets, paysafe cards and bank transfers are all available with minimal fees (around 2-4%), that apply in accordance to the EU laws. If you happen to punt on an unlicensed provider, you should be able to use Payeer, Neosurf and Upaycard as they are widely accepted in French betting sites. However, you should make sure that you are dealing with a trusted bookmaker.
It’s hard to believe that a country with a liberal heritage like France, would act in such an authoritarian manner towards gambling. Even if we don’t account for the high taxation that makes operating in France impossible to online betting sites, we can’t overlook the fact that poker players are taxed, there are no online casinos and the lack of betting options, forces local players to risk their money on unlicensed bookmakers. France desperately needs a new legal & tax frame that will appeal to bookies investing and offer more options to French bettors.
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