Gambling has a long history in France, which is not surprising given the country’s contribution to the development of various famous casino games that are being played today. As a tourist, don’t forget that here is the home of the roulette wheel, which France’s famed physicist and mathematician Blaise Pascal invented.

France is also the birthplace of chemin de fer (the original form of what we now call baccarat) and parimutuel betting. The 52-card packs used by gambling companies across the world were also invented in France.

Betting as Source of Entertainment

It seems to reason that gambling remains a popular source of entertainment in a country that has made so many contributions to the industry. According to a 2019 poll, around 47,2% of French acknowledged gambling in sports betting, horse racing, lotteries, scratch cards, poker, and casino-banked activities occasionally. 

The French likes betting. The latest ANJ report shows that there are 2.8 million active betting accounts that have generated a turnover of €420 million to French sportsbooks. You can find and learn more about the most popular betting sites in France on this page.

The Laws That Govern Gambling in France

Wagering on games of chance has long been outlawed in France, while different modifications have been passed throughout the years, exempting some types of gambling from the overall prohibition. 

Such activities should be arranged only in designated locations or offered by licensed operators with formal government authorization.

The French Homeland Security Code

The French Code of Homeland Security, sometimes known as the Security Code, governs a large chunk of the country’s gaming rules. With limited exceptions, Article L.324-1 of this piece of law forbids gambling on games of chance.

Individuals who are detected providing illicit gambling activities, including the supply of games of chance, risk up to three years in prison and severe penalties of up to €90,000.

However, if organized crime groups carry out the said activities, the penalties are significantly harsher. Individuals who violate this rule face up to seven years in jail and a €200,000 fine.

With that in mind, you can play chance games provided the casinos adhere to the Security Code’s requirements and licensing. The same is true for gaming activities carried out at sea on cruise ships or in thermal resorts.

Gambling houses that provide card and chance games must first obtain permission from the French Ministry of Home Affairs. Law 2017-257, which was enacted at the end of February 2017, covers everything gambling-related.

Article 136 of the French Finance Law allowed lotteries, which were approved in 1933. Lotteries are subject to a governmental monopoly, and only the state-owned organization La Française des Jeux can only operate it.

Interactive Gambling

In terms of interactive gambling, it became legal in 2010, allowing for the following types of online wagering: sports betting, poker (though not house-banked variations), and horse racing betting. Operators that want to lawfully serve French clients must first secure the necessary permits from the local regulator ARJEL.

However, the stringent regulatory environment on French soil, along with expensive taxes, deters many enterprises from asking for a local license. Online casino-style gambling is still illegal in France because authorities believe it is hazardous owing to its addictive nature. 

Online games with outcomes determined by chance rather than ability are prohibited in France.

Legal Gambling Age in France

Bettors must be at least 18 years old to register and put real-money bets online. By local legislation, France-licensed gambling sites do everything in their power to prevent minors from using their services. 

All real-money accounts are subjected to age and identity verification checks to guarantee that nobody under the legal gambling age opens them.

Payment Methods

Only specific recognized banking instruments can be used to finance players’ balances. Due to the country’s legislation, France-licensed betting sites are not permitted to provide local players the option of directly financing their balance with Bitcoin.

Collection of Gambling-Related Debts

Debts incurred as a result of gambling-related activities are not enforceable in France. Keeping this in mind, exceptions are allowed in certain cases. One example is when you buy chips with checks that are inadequate to cover the whole quantity of chips purchased. 

The gaming operator has the authority to seek payment of this form of debt in this case.

Taxes on Earnings in France

Under French legislation, recreational casino gamblers are often excused from paying taxes on their gains because such activities are not considered a significant source of profit. Professional poker players, on the other hand, are exempt since this game is not regarded merely as a game of chance. 

It is a professional activity for certain persons, and as such, it is subject to the country’s income tax rules.

Players Pools

To top it all off, the Gambling Act prohibits the sharing of player pools across national borders. This implies that French players are no longer able to participate in the international poker scene. 

When you play on a legal French poker site, you are only playing against people who live in France. This has generated liquidity issues for licensed sites, as it is difficult for them to keep the games operating with a small player pool.

Due to the limited player pool, many players have chosen to play at illegal sites based in other countries. The French gaming sector has immense potential, but it’s hindered by the burdensome rules.

Online Betting in France – Conclusion

High taxation for professional bettors and heavy regulation make it difficult for licensed gambling businesses to continue in business. Nearly half of the gambling sites that got licenses in 2010 have subsequently departed the market.

The good news is that gamblers have choices. Since there are no rules that make playing at unlicensed sites illegal, users may select from a wide range of licensed and unauthorized sites. You’re good to go if you like what you see on a French-legal gaming site. If you’d prefer to wager someplace else, you have several different alternatives.