March 09, 2009

France Endorses Internet Poker

French government just proposes to its congress a law amendement concerning the openning up of gambling market. If approved, this reform will come into force from Jan. 1st, 2010. Only those internet sites with a licence will be authorised.

During the last several decades, there are only two national companies that take legal control of online gaming industry in France, La Française des jeux and PMU. Things are changing. The government is forced to break up the monopoly for the head-on competition from Internet gaming.

The minister of Budget, Éric Woerth, explains that 5% of French frequent those "underground" gaming sites which are illegal according to current law, and it's potentially dangerous. These sites' number has passed 25,000 among which 20% are in French language. And the total revenu can reach 2 billion euro per year. While three quarters of this sum evades tax.

The opening of this market to free competition will concern horse gambling, sports gambling. While La Française des jeux will keep its monopoly in lottery. In terms of casino gaming, only internet poker are allowed. Meanwhile Blackjack, Roulette, and slot machines are still contraband.

Licences will be awarded to those qualified internet sites. And taxes are paid according to their revenue. Rate for sports gambling is set to be 8.5%. For horse gambling it's as high as 15.5%. While the tax rate for poker sites will be 2%, part of which will be used to finance cultural heritage programmes.

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