The gambling business in France is legal. Licenses are issued for online gambling, casinos and slot machines. The state holds a monopoly on betting, running and lottery.
Terrestrial establishments in France bring in 2.2 billion EUR annually. More than 200 casinos operate. They are operated by four main operators: Partouche, Barriere, JOA and Tranchant. More than 32 million people visit casinos annually.
The online market is estimated at more than EUR 1.5 billion. There are 35 licensed operators in the country. Most of them (29) work with online sports betting, horse racing and online poker. French gambling sites have over 3 million active accounts.
The gambling business in the country is regulated by The Security Code, which came into force on May 1, 2012. Online gambling is handled by Autorité de Régulation des Jeux en Ligne (ARJEL). The Ministry of Home Affairs licenses and oversees the land-based gambling market.
French gambling legislation
France treats gambling and betting as contracts related to chance. This category also includes insurance. The difference between gambling and other similar contracts is that it relies on an opportunity, while others pay more for service.
Recent changes in French law have brought control over skill games.
The Security Code regulates most of the French gambling business. The rest is controlled by separate laws. Online Gaming Law regulates sports betting, horse racing and club games (poker only).
The Security Code permits and regulates casinos on offshore waters, on flagged cruise ships, and in resorts and famous tourist cities. Casinos and gambling clubs offer games established by the Ministry of the Interior.
Casinos in general are very tightly controlled. They are required to provide not only games, but also entertainment and catering services. The number of games offered in them is limited: the establishments offer only those games for which they are licensed.
The lottery monopoly under Article 136, Finance Law 1933 belongs to La Française des Jeux. The horse races on Decree 97-456 of 5 May 1997 are given to the exclusive management of Pari Mutuel Urbain.
Minors cannot gamble. The exception is charity lotteries, exhibition lotteries and bingo.
The land-based gambling business is inspected by the Ministry of the Interior. Games can also be handled by prefects and national commissions or federations, depending on the level of the operators. All ground licenses are issued only by the Ministry of the Interior.
The online gambling business is handled by Autorité de Régulation des Jeux en Ligne (ARJEL), which was established in 2010 with the opening of the French online marketplace.
Conditions for obtaining a license in a gambling jurisdiction
Permits for casinos are issued on separate sites. An organization or an individual can hold several establishments.
The gambling club must be run by a non-profit organization. Games are also offered along with social, cultural and charitable events.
The creation of a non-profit organization with similar goals must be accompanied by a notice to the prefecture. After the prefecture has verified that the completed form complies with the law, the notice is published in the Official Journal. The organization can then provide gambling.
All casino and club employees must be licensed, no matter what they do. Most establishments require approval from the Home Office.
The license is issued for up to 20 years. For clubs, the permit is issued for a year with the possibility of renewal.
The process of obtaining a license for a French casino
The casino must enter into an agreement with the city where it is located. The Ministry of Internal Affairs, upon granting the request, transfers the right to provide public services. Sometimes the transfer is in the form of tenders.
The operator must then obtain a general license to provide all services at one site. All types of games and services are described in the permission. Plus, licenses from suppliers and employees are required. If the government does not respond to the submitted petition within 4 months, then this is considered a refusal.
The process of obtaining a license for a gambling club
The permit is issued to the club manager in two copies. It is to be completed with the local prefect. The prefect submits one permit to the Ministry of the Interior. The ministry approves the application after receiving a response from the Commission Consultative des Jeux de Cercle et de Casino.
In the petition, the club manager indicates:
- compliance with the rules for filing a license;
- determination of the percentage of GGR (gross revenue) that will go to support services and entertainment, charity events and other activities of the club;
- independence from any restaurants, hotels, bars and similar establishments located in the same area. For example, that the establishment will have a separate entrance.
The permission obtained is only applicable to a specific playing field. It cannot be transferred and used for any other establishment. This also includes renaming, moving to another address or changing the composition. If such changes occur, the law considers it as the creation of a new club, which requires a new permit.
Licensed varieties of gambling
The list of legal gambling in France contains the following:
- sports betting, horse and dog racing;
- casino games.
Poker is divided into six varieties, from Hold’em and Omaha to three-card. The “Order dated 14 May 2007 on the regulation applicable to games in casinos” regulation governs the rules of the game and the conduct of tournaments.
Casino games include:
- twenty three;
- thirty forty;
- black Jack;
- punto banco;
- war game;
- wheel of Fortune;
Club games are considered separately:
- three types of baccarat;
- French tarot;
As for slot machines, their import and production is prohibited by the Security Code. However, there are exceptions. Casinos may offer slot machines to visitors if at least one casino game is provided with them.
The same law determines that the RTP of slots must be at least 85%. There is also a limit on the number of credits placed in the machine.
Lotteries are generally prohibited, but there are exceptions. The following types are allowed:
- charity lotteries to fund arts or non-profit sporting events;
- lotteries at exhibitions, TV and radio shows;
- national lottery;
- promo lottery.
Online gambling in the country
As for online gambling in France, it is legalized. ARJEL licenses operators, although poker is the only permitted club game. Sports betting and horse racing are also legal.
The online operator can only offer services in France, that is, gambling websites are exclusively targeted at residents of France. The software must be licensed by ARJEL. All providers of the online platform are indicated in the license.
Online licenses are issued for three areas of gambling:
- sports betting;
- horse racing.
A separate permit is given for each species. But the operator can run several playgrounds, which provide licensed games. The operator must be based in the European Union or an EU economic zone.
License fees vary in the following range:
- 5,000 EUR for 1 permit (for 1 type of game);
- 8,000 EUR – for 2 permits;
- 10,000 EUR – for three.
Additionally, an annual fee of 20,000-40,000 EUR is paid (depending on the number of licenses – one, two or three). The online gambling business license is issued for five years with the possibility of renewal.
Popular slot machines in the country
The list of the most popular slot machines in France includes:
- Super Lucky Reels – iSoftBet;
- Jungle Jim – Microgaming;
- Scrolls of Ra – iSoftBet;
- Vikings Go Wild – Yggdrasil;
- Gladiator – BetSoft.
Super Lucky Reels by iSoftBet is a slot machine with five lines, three main reels and two additional reels. The device has a chance to get respins, additional multipliers, instant bonuses.
Jungle Jim by Microgaming is a 5-reel slot machine with 25 pay lines. Cascading bonuses are awarded with multipliers for a sequence of winning spins. The slot has a chance to get free spins and win up to 92,000 coins.
Scrolls of Ra by iSoftBet is a 5-reel slot with 20 pay lines, where you can get two bonuses and win up to 10,000 coins.
Vikings Go Wild by Yggdrasil is a five reel slot machine with 25 fixed lines. There is a chance to get free spins with sticky wild symbols. The treasure chest gives you free spins, multipliers and additional wild symbols.
BetSoft’s Gladiator is a 5-reel, 30-line slot game. There are three bonus rounds with additional wilds, multipliers and pick-me play. The fourth game offers to arrange a fight between gladiators.
The gambling business in France is developing quite successfully. Although not known about the French developers of slot machines and casino games, casinos and playgrounds are well developed. Interestingly, institutions, along with games, are obliged to provide other services, including charitable ones.