Active players: 9.000.000
Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting, casino games, poker, lottery, keno, bingo, scratch cards
Operator types: Licensed & unlicensed online bookmakers, land-based FDJ betting shops, land-based casinos, state-regulated horse races (PMU), lottery games operator Française des Jeux (FDJ)
Designated authority: Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ)
France is a Western European country, and among the most historic ones when it comes to gambling. It is the birthplace of roulette, blackjack and the very first regulated horse racing wagers. Despite that, sports betting in France has had many ups and downs before finally being legalized and successfully regulated. Football attracts the majority of bettors and there are numerous Française des Jeux (FDJ) betting shops to facilitate them. Furthermore, there are also -currently 17- licensed betting sites in France. More online bookies are also available to local players, they’re just not locally licensed.
Bet France - 5 things to know
- At the moment there are 17 French bookies holding a local license
- There are still no licensed online casinos
- No betting exchange or spread betting websites operate in France
- The legal gambling age is 18 years of age
- Despite restrictions to accessing unlicensed bookies, technically it isn’t illegal to bet on them
Best Betting sites in France
The following shortlist contains the best betting sites France has to offer. We selected those particular bookies after comparing their odds, betting markets and payout.
Gambling in France: The legal framework
Law No 2010-476, the 'French Gambling Act', was the first legal piece to regulate the online sector. It officially came into force on May 13, 2010 and opened the market to competition, allowing foreign online operators to apply for a local license. It also took a decisive step towards the regulation of the gambling industry with the creation of an official regulatory body; the Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL).
According to the provisions of the French Gambling Act, only 3 types of online gambling activities (i.e. sports betting, horse racing betting and poker games) are considered legal. Therefore, there are only three types of appropriate licenses. France online casino games on the other hand did not receive licenses. That happened due to the fact that, along with spread and exchange betting, they were characterized as highly addictive by lawmakers.
Moreover, prior to the regulation of the online gambling market in 2010, sports betting and horse racing betting were under the control of the then state-owned monopoly operators Française des Jeux (FDJ) and Pari mutuel urbain (PMU). They both received permission by the state to legally offer their services online back in 2001. Nowadays, although they continue to operate, they apparently no longer have a monopoly in the online betting France scene. Nonetheless, they still monopolize the operation of land-based betting shops in the country.
Betting France - Recent changes
As of October 2019, the Autorite Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) has been formed, taking over from ARJEL. This is an independent authority, reporting straight to the Parliament. It officially took over on March 4, 2020. No new law has been in place yet, however, a few changes have been made:
1. The Française des Jeux (FDJ) has been privatized.
2. The ANJ has more powers and is able to audit and/or sanction operators. It not only regulates the online gambling market, as the ARJEL used to do; but it also regulates land-based casinos, land-based horse racing betting parlors and lotteries.
3. Its efforts against money laundering and towards the protection and safety of players are now codified under the Internal Security Code.
4. Operators' taxation basis is now over their GGR, instead of being based on players' total wagers. For online France bookmakers, that reaches up to a massive 55.2%.
Licensed French Betting Sites
Currently, 17 licensed French sports betting sites offer their services to local bettors. This relatively low pool of licensees is mainly due to the new tax system for online operators. That’s 33.8% of their GGR, plus 10.7% of social security payments. Adding another 10.7% contribution to the National Centre for the Development of Sport, it sums up to a staggering 55.2%.
That significantly limits their potential profits, non arguably. Apart from licensed online bookies, French bettors can choose to place their bets on any of the land-based betting shops operated by FDJ; plus, on any unlicensed bookie, at their own discretion.
Unlicensed Bookmakers in France
With such a few online betting sites licensed by ANJ, it becomes apparent that there are many others that don’t hold a domestic license. However, they still manage to operate within the French market despite the fact that they could face fines.
One can access those bookies directly through their .com website. If they are blocked, then they should be accessible through mirror websites or by using a VPN. At the end of our analysis you can find the list of all online bookies that offer their services to French players.
The strict licensing system and the heavy tax regime that still apply in France, has led many international brands to leave the local market. Bet365 France is one of the most prominent foreign bookies that exited the market and hasn’t applied for a local license. 22bet is yet another example of a popular bookmaker that left the market too. 1xbet France has also pulled over and is still out of reach of local bettors.
Football in France is by far the most widespread betting activity. Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 fixtures are always on top of bookmakers France lists of choice. Betting on tennis and especially on the French Open is also very popular among bettors. As regards cycling, the Tour de France also attracts millions of players every year. Another fans’ favorite is the Monaco Grand Prix, as betting on the famous F1 circuit has always been fascinating. Last but not least, France rugby is also one of the all time favorite sports nationwide. Betting on Les Bleus on big events like the Six Nations Championship is almost like a ritual.
Despite the strict measures that ANJ implements, there are numerous ways you can make a deposit or a withdrawal. Credit/debit cards, e-wallets (like Skrill), PayPal France and bank transfers are all available without fees; except for Neteller, which charges minimal fees around 2-4% that apply in accordance to the EU laws. If you choose to place your bets on an unlicensed bookmaker then you may also use Payeer, Neosurf, as well as cryptocurrencies.
It's hard to believe that a country with a liberal heritage like France would treat gambling so strictly. Since the imposition of the French Gambling Act, the market has been mostly dominated by local operators. Heavy taxation and the lack of online casino licenses, are the reasons why top international brands like Bet365 stay out of the market.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the lack of decent betting options forces local players to opt for unlicensed bookmakers in France. It sure isn't the most welcoming country when it comes to online betting and it needs a more operator-friendly legal framework. The French gambling scene has a long way to go before it can truly fulfill its potential. It’s all down to the ANJ to show its colors in the coming years.
After a full analysis of the local gambling environment, we now list all the available online bookies that accept French players. All are legal and respectable sportsbooks, so feel free to make your choices.
Yes, gambling is considered legal in France. Nonetheless, it’s worth mentioning that not all forms of online gambling in France are indeed legal. Namely, casino games, spread betting and betting exchanges are not.
Exchange betting is among the types of gambling activities that are not legal in France, as they are deemed too addictive. As a consequence, betting exchanges in France are not licensed.
The most popular online gambling sites that operate in France are Bwin and PokerStars Sports. They both hold a local license issued by ANJ, the local regulatory authority for online games.
Bwin France is one of the most prominent international bookmakers that accepts French players. It offers betting on 50+ sports, with more than 30.000 pre-match events per month, plus various bonuses and promotions.
Bet365 is not among the licensed bookies that operate in France with the approval of ANJ. Thus, it is not considered legal and it does not accept French bettors.