12/23/09 – The first signals appeared a month ago in the French newspaper La Tribune, but there is now growing concern that the much-anticipated liberalisation of the French gambling market is running behind schedule and is unlikely to be in place before the football World Cup next year.
Online gambling operators keen to exploit a more open French market during football's biggest show will be disappointed if the speculation of a late implementation becomes a reality, having already experienced the frustration of the French not making the original liberalisation date of January 2010.
La Tribune took a pessimistic look at the situation, questioning whether the new regime would be effective in time for the World Cup football in South Africa.
The newspaper reported that progress is running behind schedule, and that although French plans to license online operators offering sporting bets, horse racing and poker have been approved by MPs in the National Assembly these are unlikely to pass the Senate until the end of March 2010.
The legalization then has to go back to the National Assembly… and after that it will take three months for EC approval so that the new regime can come into practical effect (see previous InfoPowa report).
The World Cup starts in June 2010, and licenses can only be issued when the new law has passed. Several EU companies are known to have plans to partner with French groups to make access easier, notably Paddy Power's collaboration with the PMU.
French senator François Trucy told La Tribune that parts of the law could be rewritten because there was a feeling that it did not go far enough to give health bodies the means to treat and prevent compulsive gambling.
This week, French parliamentarians were pessimistic, saying that considering the length of the legislative process and the fact that it has not yet been added to the Senate's agenda for next year, it would take a miracle for the law be implemented before late 2010.
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