A Blow To Online Gambling In France
While countries like Canada and even individual states like New Jersey have been taking steps towards legal and regulated online gambling, France seems to have taken a few steps back. With the Football World Cup looming large on the horizon, players and gaming operators alike have been hopeful that the bill to regulate and legalize online gambling would go through. But things haven’t gone ahead as expected, and it seems that by the end of it, the players will suffer from this setback.
The path to legalizing online gambling in France hasn’t been an easy one. A number of positive steps have been taken already, with the Bill successfully passing in both the Senate and the French National Assembly. While definitely a step forward, the Bill still needs to be passed by The Constitutional Council of France. It is the job of this council to ensure that the Bill conforms completely to the Constitution, and complies with statutes put forth by the European Union. This is done after the Parliament passes the Bill, but before the President signs it. The Bill was passed in the Parliament in mid-April and it was believed that it would go through, given the fact that the World Cup was so close at hand, and sports betting was already starting to buzz.
But in a move that was both surprising and disappointing, The Constitutional Council of France issued a statement claiming that it was not competent enough to assess whether the Bill was compliant in terms of European Union standards. However, it must be noted that the Bill, as it currently stands, does not seem to be in violation with the Constitution of France. This means that the President could go ahead and sign the Bill anyway. But unfortunately, this setback has served as a platform for weak points and drawbacks of the Bill to surface once again, within public focus.
In general terms, the root of France’s online gambling woes lies in the hands of its state-owned casinos. There are a few such companies that, until now, have run a monopoly of gambling in France. The proposed Bill would allow gaming operators from the European Union to enter the French markets, and by deferring the Bill’s passing, it is popularly believed that this is a ploy to protect the state-owned gambling units. As it stands, limits are also being proposed for how much bettors can put down. This is just one of the many problems with the Bill that need to be addressed. If gaming operators in the EU still want to enter the French market, they are setting foot on shaky ground, in both a financial as well as a legal sense.
Interestingly enough, the gaming operators do not seem to mind it. This could be because, in the end, it is the bettor who will be paying the price. It simply comes down to a question of gambling cheaply and illegally, or gambling legally at a higher price. Most bettors would opt for legal betting since it is safer for them. Perhaps in the face of other countries taking steps to reform their online gambling laws, France will take another look at their Bill and work towards legalized and regulated online gambling that would benefit all involved.