Gambling in France is legal but online gambling is a bit limited

Europe has long been associated with culture, and the countries in this continent are known for their contributions to art and architecture, among others. Not surprisingly, they have also made significant achievements in recreation and entertainment, citing the likes of Monte Carlo and the South of France.

France, in particular, has established a high reputation for a lot of things like fashion (think Chanel, Dior and Louboutin), tourism (think the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre), and cuisine (think escargot, cheeses and wines). All these support the French reputation for fine taste in entertainment and pleasure.

Probably not as well known is its inputs in the history of gambling. In his quest for the perpetual motion machine, Blaise Pascal came up with the wheel which would later serve as the roulette wheel. The deck of cards was permanently changed in the 1500s when the Queen replaced the Nobleman as part of the set.

Given the long roots of gambling in France, it is no surprise that it presently enjoys a legal standing for adults (i.e., 18 years and older). This includes slot machines, starting from 1988 when the ban was lifted. The industry is regulated by two government bodies, one for lotteries and wagering games (FDJ or Francaise des Jeux), and the other for horse racing, PMU or Pari Mutuel Urbain.

With the advent of modern technology, it seems inevitable that virtual entertainment would be made available, and indeed it has. In line with this, online gambling in France was legalized in 2010 with the French Gambling Act, also known as Law No 2010-476. This law also called for the creation of a government agency tasked specifically for regulation of this industry, the French Gambling Authority or ARJEL. The passing of the law was pretty timely, as it was just prior to the 2010 World Cup. Thus, in the first month alone, wagers totaled €83 million and more than 1.2 million accounts were opened.

This law was several years in the making, starting in 2005 with an investigation by the European Commission. This led to the proposal in 2007 for several changes to the then-existing French law, to align it with the European Union (EU) regulations and open the market to other operators from other EU member nations. Refinements to the bill were further made, until it finally passed in 2010.

This law permits online gaming in only three categories, namely: horse race wagers (pool wagering), sports betting (pool, fixed odds and live betting), and poker (Omaha Poker 4 and Texas Hold'em). Deemed too addictive, casino games, betting exchange and spread betting are not legal options for gaming in France.