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Doubts Linger Over French Gambling Legislation

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

13 May 2010

Following a request lodged by more than 60 members of the French Parliament, the French Constitutional Council has recognized that it is not competent to assess whether a new French law on online gaming and betting is compliant with European Union (EU) law.

The bill and various draft implementing decrees notified to the European Commission have already triggered, through detailed opinions, heavy criticism and strong warnings against the new French legal framework due to issues of compliance with EU law.

The European Betting and Gambling Association (EGBA) praised the decision to move from a monopoly to a licensing approach but criticized the French government's failure to acknowledge the cross border and digital nature of the market.

Under the new French law, well-established EU operators will be forced to comply with local requirements which duplicate controls and guarantees already in place.

According to the EGBA, if promulgated by the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, this law will introduce severe distortion of competition and disproportionate market restrictions without any added value in terms of sports integrity and consumer protection.

Sigrid Ligné, Secretary General of the EGBA said that “experience in other countries has shown that overly restrictive regulations do not provide efficient protection and tend to expose players to unregulated websites based outside EU jurisdiction”.

She added: “The French miss an opportunity to put an end to the legal uncertainty that has prevailed in the last four years due to the inconsistency of the existing legislation with EU law. After years of litigation and particularly intensive parliamentary debates we are today back to square one”.

The EGBA suggests that, if operators have announced their intention to apply for a license in France, they will do so in a context of great legal and business uncertainty. The association also argues that it is the French player who will be losing out due to an unattractive and uncompetitive national offering.

A comprehensive report in our Intelligence Report series examining the new possibilities that offshore e-commerce open up for business, and analysing the offshore jurisdictions that have led the way in offering professional e-commerce regimes for international business, with a particular focus on e-gaming, is available in the Lowtax Library at and a description of the report can be seen at
TAGS: business | European Commission | commerce | law | internet | e-commerce | gambling | licensing | legislation | France | regulation | Europe

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