Heralded as a new model for governments to regulate online gambling and Internet poker, France’s new iGaming rules haven’t been in effect very long — just since last year, actually — so, it’s reasonable to think that there might be glitches.

But according to at least one disgruntled operator, the entire French online gambling system is a farce. That might have big implications for the rest of the online gambling world, since France’s “Balkanization” of the iGaming market might become a model for other countries (and even states). 

Stéphane Courbit, BetClic ‘s Chairman and 50% shareholder, criticized the French government for what he terms the “’nastiest’ internet gambling legislation in Europe.” According to a recent report, he also “accused the French government by stating that their tax bracket does not encourage fair business practises and that internet casinos will feel obliged to try and find ‘loop holes’ within the current French gaming system.”

“Initially it was an excellent choice by the president and his government to legalize and regulate internet gambling in France,” Courbit explained in a statement published by French newspaper Le Figaro. “However, current French law is not gambling conducive and could be regarded as the most awful in Europe. It’s difficult for us to function as a cohesive unit; since the taxation is sky high, internet casinos have very little autonomy and player conversions are very low.”

“The cap rate imposed by French legislation per player seems to be the main problem,” he continues, explaining why Betclic’s performance plummeted around the time of the World Cup. “Of late we can’t even deal out more than 85% of money to our current players. Elsewhere in Europe, as well as France if an internet casino is not licensed the redistribute rate is 96%. We can’t even begin to imagine how unsatisfactory this would be for French players, who are aware that unlicensed internet casinos pay much higher tax rates.”

Courbit also complains about “what he sees as advantages maintained by former duopoly providers Française Des Jeux (FDJ) and Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU) in the areas of lotteries and horse betting,” writes Steven Stradbrooke at CalvinAyre.com. “In August, Bodog Europe CEO Patrik Selin predicted those two companies would be the only ones who found the new regulatory climate habitable.”

The bottom line, per Courbit: The French online gambling market’s maximum 85% return rate is driving away customers, although authorities claim that this problem is a surprise.

Important lessons to learn as the world moves toward continually self-contained online gambling markets, such as the French model.


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