France Receives Deadline Extension from European Commission
The European Commission, under the auspices of the European Union, recently extended the deadline that it had originally given France to revise its online gambling legislation. The French government will now have until October 29th, 2007, to modify its laws and allow the most secure European operators to access the French market. The extension first became public on August 28th, based on statements made by the spokesman for the Commissioner of the European Union's Internal Market, Oliver Drewes.
French online gambling is being targeted by the European Commission for two reasons. The first concerns governmental measures to control the Internet, and the second involves the free market within the European Union.
Initially, the European Commission had requested that France revise a law before the end of August 2007 that would have required all Internet providers to post a preventative message informing users that they were about to enter a site that was unauthorized in France. Those providers who failed to comply would be fined €75,000. Before the same deadline, it was also requested that France open its horseracing market to European gambling operators, or answer to European Court of Justice for violating article 49 of the European Treaty (relating to free-market trade in the service sector within the EU).
Online poker will lose much of its visibility in France as of Wednesday, September 5th. While the British government published its Gambling Act-authorized "White List" at the beginning of August, 2007 permitting certain operators to invest in the advertising sector of the UK market, France's law for the prevention of delinquency will fine all media displaying ads for foreign-based online gambling operators a minimum of €30,000.
The problem regarding online poker is this: only two gambling operators are authorized by the French government to offer games on the Internet. It is hard to imagine the PMU, which specializes in horse racing, venturing onto the poker scene. And as for the Française des Jeux, it informed interested parties in August that it does not plan to open a poker room online. This leaves no current online rooms in a position to advertise within France under the terms of the new law.