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French Online Casinos

France Online CasinosAs things stand online casino games and slots are unlicensed in France, which seems incredibly odd when you consider that many of the most famous casino games actually originated from the country!

France has a long and eventful history with all forms of gambling, but it appears to be dragging its heels a little in comparison to the rest of Europe when it comes to online gaming. No doubt you’re wondering how the country that brought the world the 52-card deck, has reached a position where some online card games are unlicensed, but there are various circumstances at play – and let’s not forget that the country has a huge bricks-and-mortar casino industry to protect.

The EU has continually put pressure on French lawmakers to bring their policies in line with European regulations, and there has been significant change since 2010, but there is still a long way to go.

The most important thing for French players to know, however, is that it is not against the law to play at a foreign-based online casino, even if it is not licensed by the French authorities. This means that slots enthusiasts in France can enjoy spinning the reels online just like the rest of us, without any worries about legality. Here are some of the best online casinos that accept French players:

Best French Casino Sites in 2017

  • Rank
  • Casino
  • Bonus
  • Play
1
100% UP TO €100
2
100% UP TO €777
3
100% UP TO €100
4
500% UP TO €5000
5
100% UP TO €200

Best French Casino Sites in 2017

1
Wild Sultan Casino
100% UP TO €100
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2
Casino777
100% UP TO €777
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3
Monsieur Vegas Casino
100% UP TO €100
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4
Spartan Slots Casino
500% UP TO €5000
Play Now
5
Unique Casino
100% UP TO €200
Play Now

A Rich History

For a country with such a rich gambling tradition it’s remarkable that the French authorities have prohibited certain forms of gambling over the years. Some of the oldest gambling establishments in the world can be found in France, and as a country it contributed to the development of some of today’s most popular games.

It was as far back as the 1500’s when the Queen was introduced as a face card in the deck, taking the place of the Nobleman, and France was the first to introduce the standard 52-card deck that we use today. It was also a French mathematician by the name of Blaise Pascal who invented the roulette wheel in the 17th century, which led to the development of the game we know and love. Even the idea of parimutuel betting originates in France, which is said to have been invented in the country around 1870.

There are close to 500 casinos, horse racing tracks and racinos (a combined racetrack and casino) dotted around the country, and this might go some way towards explaining the French authorities’ reluctance to embrace the online world.

Until recently two state-owned gambling operators monopolised the French gaming scene: The PMU which looks after horse racing, and the FDJ which takes care of betting games and lotteries. The only notable legal changes over the last 20-30 years had been a reduction in the legal age for gambling, which was brought down to 18 from 21 in 1987, and the legalization of land-based slots machines in 1988, which for some reason had been banned previously.

Viva La Revolution

That all changed with the online revolution of 2010, when under pressure from the EU, France passed The Gambling Act and established ARJEL – the Regulatory authority for online games.

This was a vital piece of legislation for players, as it broke up the monopoly of the state-owned companies, and opened up the French market to other EU gaming operators. 35 companies applied for and were granted licences to provide sports betting, horse racing betting, and online poker to French players. Sadly at this stage the government decided to exclude casino games, slots and table games, as they were regarded as ‘too addictive’ by French politicians, although it appears to be a slight contradiction that they continue to be acceptable at land-based casinos. Nonetheless, the change opened up the market for French players, and they now have a far wider choice for sports betting and poker at the websites that hold French licenses.

There remains a huge ‘but’ though, and that revolves around the French authorities approach to taxation and regulation. The high tax rate has led to 15 of the 35 original operators to gain licenses withdrawing their operations from the country as a result of unsustainable operating costs.

Taxing Times for Operators

So, what’s the problem? Well, when the Gambling Act was brought in, it included very high rates of tax for poker and sports betting.

Any poker pot is subject to a 2% tax rake in addition to the usual rake taken by the poker site. To put that in context, French players are paying 7.5% or more in total rake, compared to the industry average of 4-5%. To make matters worse, the Gambling Act also prohibits the sharing of player pools across national borders. Or in other words, French players can’t play against anyone outside of France, and can’t compete for international tournaments or pots. Many licensed sites have stated that this makes it difficult to keep games running with such a limited pool of players.

The same high tax rate also applies to sports betting, which is liable for an 8.5% levy on every individual bet placed. When you consider that most of us can place a bet and collect our winnings without paying a penny in tax, you can see how this can have a huge effect on total profits for the punter.

In addition to these taxes, betting site operators are expected to pay 33% corporation tax, hence the large number of sites that have closed down.

Business as Usual

There have never been any laws or regulations against French people playing at foreign-based online casinos and sportsbooks. As in most countries where regulations are slow to catch up, millions of players prefer to use reputable foreign casinos where there are no taxes, and hundreds of different casino games and slots to avail of.

The French authorities have taken a familiar approach to try and prevent this by compelling Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) to block access to unlicensed sites. However, this has been large unsuccessful as anyone with a basic knowledge of the internet can circumvent these blocks by using a vpn.

It is no coincidence that the countries with a strong land-based casino presence tend to be the same countries that are lagging behind in terms of online regulation. At some point though, especially with continued pressure from the EU, the French government will surely look to take advantage of the huge revenues that can be gained from taxing online gambling. Most experts confidently predict that this change will come, but until then, French players will most likely continue to use overseas sites that provide better value for money and offer a vast range of online slot machines.

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