6/18/10 – Ending many months of anticipation, speculation and debate, the French gambling market became officially liberalised Tuesday when regulator ARJEL granted 17 licenses to 11 operators just 3 days before the start of the football World Cup in South Africa.
 
Quoting from a decree published in the Official Journal, the Agence France Presse news service reported that three types of online bets are covered by the new dispensation: for horse racing, betting on organised sports events and online poker.
 
ARJEL said operators with a licence for football or sporting bets could start their activities as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday, in time for the World Cup, while the third category – online poker – would get under way at the end of the month following a complaint by Malta to the European Commission.
 
The liberalisation ends 471 years of state monopoly on gambling established by an edict of King Francois I in 1539. Since then gambling has been under the authority of the state which delegated its monopoly to casinos, the national lottery and horse racing body the PMU.