France Opens Online Gambling Market to Outside Companies

April 9, 2010 (CAP Newswire) – The parliament in France has just passed a new law that will open its newly legalized online gambling market to foreign competition, which is something several French gambling companies had been fighting in recent months.

The new law will go into effect before the June 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa, according to BusinessWeek.

“The law seeks to stem illegal gambling and maintain 5 billion euros ($6.7 billion) in annual tax receipts from the industry,” BusinessWeek comments. “Lawmakers passed the law with 299 votes in favor and 223 against. The government will introduce a levy of 7.5 percent on online sports and horseracing wagers and 2 percent on online poker wagers, according to the legislation.”

The decision is in line with a 2007 request from the EU that European countries avoid state monopolies on “lotteries, sports and horseracing bets, and to open gambling to competition or risk a lawsuit,” the articles adds.

The major online gambling brands aren’t wasting any time getting ready to take this opportunity to enter the French market. In recent weeks, PartyGaming has signed a deal to provide Internet poker services to French horse betting company Pari Mutuel Urbain, and bwin has announced that it will re-open a French online gambling site.

“We have long fought for a liberalisation (of online gambling) and obviously think this is a good decision,” bwin IR chief Konrad Sveceny told Die Presse, according to Reuters.

They’ll have competition. French online gambling companies are shoring up their positions to lear their home Internet casino markets, as well. Recently, it was reported that French gambling company Groupe Lucien Barriere would launch an initial public offering (IPO) in June, as this Reuters article indicates.