France’s National Assembly is to consider a bill that could lead to the legalisation of online casino in the country.
Introduced this week by Philippe Latombe of the Democratic Movement party, Bill 1248 sets out proposals to open a regulated online casino market in France.
The core proposal of the bill is for a “five-year moratorium”, whereby online casino gambling would be legal for a period of five years but only for “national actors”.
Article 2 of the bill set out that this measure would run through until 1 January 2030. After this, the market would be extended past existing casino licensees and opened to other operators interested in offering online casino.
This, the bill said, would allow existing licensees to develop in “serene” economic conditions before the market fully opens.
“If the opening were to be total and immediate, it would upset our regulatory frameworks, weaken the national casino industry and the economic balance of the municipalities where it is located,” the bill said. “This could then lead to potentially devastating consequences for employment in this sector.”
Meanwhile, Article 1 makes reference to authorising operators to offer online casino games, similar to those currently available in land-based casinos.
Finally, Article 3 said that online casino games would be subject to the same levies operated by the state and local authorities for other forms of gambling.
At present, online casino is not legal in any form in France. Internet sports wagering and horse racing betting is permitted through approved operators, while licensed land-based casinos are also legal.
According to Bill 1248, the changing habits of players means that their preference is now to gamble online. However, with internet casino currently deemed illegal, this has forced consumers to gamble with offshore, unlicensed sites that do not offer protection measures.
Legalising online casinos and issuing licences to approved operators, the bill said, would help create a safer environment for players. This market would also help generate additional tax income for the country, the bill added.
“The ban in force against online casinos is reaching its limits, even if the authorities try to identify and block illegal sites using court orders,” the bill said.
“Faced with these developments, it appears that the absolute prohibition regime is de facto not very protective for consumers. This justifies raising the question of the evolution of the French legal framework in order to adapt it to new practices.”
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