5/15/10 – Two major British internet gambling firms are keeping their options open on a newly liberalised French online gambling market, but in the meantime are showing respect for French law by refusing to accept action from gamblers in that country.
Betfair has announced that it will no longer accept bets from France out of respect for the new laws, which insist that only operators holding French licences from the regulator ARJEL are allowed to accept bets from French residents.
Betfair has pointed out that until new licenses are awarded, accepting French bets will be illegal, and the company appears intent on flying right in case it decides to go after some of the French online action.
This week a company spokesman revealed that Betfair is still considering whether to make an application for a licence from ARJEL, and is awaiting the publication of the regulator’s licensing requirements and more clarity on how the market will operate.
The gambling company has in the past welcomed French liberalization, but has expressed concerns that the new laws may “…impose restrictions on licensed operators which are both protectionist and go against the interests of French consumers”.
“We are looking very hard at the French market and how we might operate within the new licensed regime,” said Tim Phillips, Betfair’s director of European Public Affairs. “Though it's not impossible for a newcomer to create a commercially viable business, most projections show it will be very difficult to do so, given the proposed restrictions imposed on licence holders.
“French legalization will certainly benefit the incumbent players and the ultimate loser will be the French consumer. The new law does not adequately open the former monopoly's market to true competition from other operators. We hope that the review, scheduled 18 months from now, will amend the law to address these flaws.”
Meanwhile Sportingbet has announced that its online poker site Paradise Poker will no longer accept players from France and Italy due to recent regulatory changes in those countries. The sites are now no longer accessible to such players.
Whilst no detailed statement on the exclusions has been made, the move is probably associated with the French release on March 1st this year the conditions which operators must meet if they want to be considered for a French licence from ARJEL.
The speculation is that operators will have to show that they have respected the changes in the French law if they wish to successfully apply for a French licence under the new dispensation.