October 7, 2009 (CAP Newswire) — The European news media seems to be assuming that France’s new bill designed to create new online gambling rules is something of a sure thing, with the BBC writing under the headline “France set to relax betting rules” and Reuters titling its story “French bill to open up online gambling market”.
Currently, only the state monopolies in France (of which there are two) are allowed to offer online gambling services to the French population. And the only allowed gambling activities are horse race betting and the state lottery.
But the new bill, introduced today, would change all that, and in quite dramatic fashion. And that would in turn transform the entire European online gambling industry in a huge way, by opening up an enormous new market to existing online gambling companies.
“Should the restrictions be relaxed, there ‘is a massive potential market for any firm,’” Paddy Power told the BBC.
The bill was introduced in response to the “growing number of illegal gambling sites accessible to the French, and to pressure from the European Commission to reform gambling markets,” continues the BBC. “An estimated 3 million French people illegally use gambling websites based abroad,” adds Reuters.
"We have chosen a middle way which I think is just and efficient, a controlled opening up of the market," Budget Minister Eric Woerth told parliament, according to Reuters. "I want to put an end to these parallel universes. I want to put an end to the jungle of illegal sites.”
Regional soccer clubs are among those who have been lobbying for the changes in French gambling law, which would allow them to offer bet-making via their websites.
Similarly, the new bill would open up a vast new online poker market. (France's population is more than 60 million).