September 25, 2009 (CAP Newswire) – U.K.-focused financial news sources this week were buzzing with the possibility that France might soon open its online gaming market to other nations, a move that could dramatically boost the fortunes of some prominent U.K.-based companies.

That home market in the U.K. was estimated at $1.4 billion last year, according to the Swiss-Press. That figure was a result of research from the U.K.’s own Gambling Commission, a special governmental committee set up earlier this decade to oversee the “remote gambling” industry. It was also estimated that a fourth of that sum comes from the National Lottery, scarcely related to the traditional online gaming industry.

Still, the fortunes of leading companies such as 888, William Hill, and PartyGaming are fighting to overcome an increasingly sluggish home market.

But those companies could soon be getting a crack at a juicy new market: On October 7, France will decide whether or not to let foreign companies provide sports betting and poker services within its borders. Currently, the state lottery providers Groupe Francaise des Jeux and Pari Mutuel Urbain offer online gambling on horseracing in France; all other forms of online betting are banned.

“The size of the population and the appetite for gambling, and the group’s historically cautious approach to France make this a particularly exciting opportunity for us,” Jim Ryan, CEO of PartyGaming, told Bloomberg News.

If opened, it’s estimated that the French market could reach almost $1 billion in 2010.

Read the article here; read the Bloomberg article here.

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