France has recently opened up its online gambling market to international operators, in order to adhere to the European Union’s free trade requirements. However, France’s new online gambling laws require operators to obtain an additional French gaming license which dictates constraints that have been called “excessive” and “draconian”.
While over 35 different online casino operators have decided to tough it out and apply for licenses, many companies have refrained. Many more have decided to withdraw from the market completely.
Yesterday, the list of newly licensed online gambling companies was released. The full list includes:
- BES SAS
- Bwin/Amaury Groupe
- France Pari
- La Française des Jeux
- Iliad Gaming/ChiliGaming
- Pari Mutuel Urbain
- SPS Betting
- Table 14
Curiously enough, only two of the companies that have obtained licenses are not owned by French entrepreneurs. Even then, Austrian-owned Bwin has partnered with Sajoo and Amaury group. France has yet to announce when more licenses will be granted, but as it stands only the companies listed above will be able to handle the influx of wagers caused by the World Cup, which begins on June 11.
Companies that are still awaiting licenses are mostly UK-based operators, including PartyGaming, PokerStars, Microgaming, Ladbrokes and UniBet.
Those that have pulled out completely are: Spin Palace, Cabaret Club, Ruby Fortune, Piggs Casino, Mummy’s Gold, William Hill, 888, Betfair, SportingBet, Paradise Poker and Cake Poker. This month, they will no longer accept wagers or transactions from players located in France. Although they have vowed to payout all money that is owed to French players, all future activity from .fr domains will be blocked.