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Best French Gambling Sites

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France has played a significant role in the gambling industry, helping to invent or make improvements to several card and/or table games that have become staples of the casino experience. The French added the queen to the deck of cards and created roulette, pari-mutuel betting, and “vingt et un,” which translates to “twenty-one.”

Gaming is a tightly regulated hobby in the EU member state. While sports betting, horse racing, and poker are all widely available at land-based locations as well as online, casinos and slot machines face stricter regulations. For example, casinos are limited to specific tourist cities (not Paris) and resort areas, with many of them floating on the sea.

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As a member of the European Union, France has been forced to adopt some more relaxed gaming restrictions and allow their citizens to access licensed online operators from other EU allies. While some forms of betting are still easier to come by than others, you can find pretty much any kind of wagering you need.

In this guide, we’ll introduce you to the best gambling sites in France, teach you about our review process, and give you all the information you need about the legalities of betting in “L’Hexagone.”

Why Are These Sites Recommended?

Now, you’re probably wondering what it is about our list of recommended French gambling sites that would make us call them “the best.” First, the websites provided must be compatible with whatever specific conditions the reader is looking for. For example, in this case, the sites must all be accessible from France.

After the specific factors like sport, wager type, or location are covered, our team of expert reviewers ensures every betting site shared on LegitGamblingSites.com meets our exceptionally high standards. Any gaming operator found here can be sure to possess the following qualities (among many others).

Legitimacy and Reliability

Our primary mission for this website is right in the name: legitimacy! The online gaming marketplace attracts large numbers of scammers and rogue operators who make money by stealing from unexpecting new bettors. Many of our experts have had negative experiences with unethical betting sites in the past, which is why we dedicate so much time and effort toward making sure it never happens to any of our readers.

Numerous Game and Wager Options

French gambling sites are already somewhat limited in what they can offer, with only horseracing and sports betting legalized along with poker. The operators we choose to recommend will help you fill the void left by the lack of casino games by providing tons of sports leagues, events, and wager types to help keep things fresh and exciting for players. Plus, the more options you have at the online sportsbook, the better your chances of developing a unique betting niche that gives you an edge over oddsmakers.

Easy Deposits and Fast Payouts

The process of depositing and withdrawing money from a gambling site’s player account is one aspect of online gaming with a massive impact on customer satisfaction. We recommend French gambling site operators who offer a wide range of deposit methods with fast transaction timelines, especially for withdrawal requests. Nothing is more frustrating than betting websites that make it difficult for customers ever to receive their payouts.

Mobile Device Compatibility

In today’s world, more and more of our internet time is being spent on the screens of mobile devices rather than desktop computers or laptops. For that reason, we value French gambling sites that offer a quality mobile gaming experience with well-designed, easy-to-use apps or mobile-device-compatible websites.

Bonuses and Loyalty Rewards Programs

Between deposit bonuses and loyalty rewards programs, customers of French gambling sites can receive valuable benefits for merely opening an account, making a deposit, and betting as they usually would anyway. The deposit prizes are often given in the form of cash, by matching a percentage of your initial transfer into the betting account. As you continue to wager, loyalty rewards will kick in, offering all sorts of gifts ranging from movie tickets to free play tokens and sometimes even vehicles for the biggest high-rollers!

Is Gambling Legal in France?

Some forms of gambling are legal in France, explicitly betting activities that require skill or strategy.  According to ARJEL, the country’s regulatory authority over all online gaming activities, sports gambling, horserace betting, and poker are legal. However, they are strictly controlled – much more than many other EU member states.

In order to serve the French population, the site operators must first be licensed with ARJEL. Online bookmakers must also have entered into formal agreements with the sports leagues governing any game or event that the sportsbook wishes to post odds on. Additionally, website headquarters must be located within an EU state.

Before 2009, the industry was even more restrictive. Initially, France only allowed specific French gambling site operators to serve the country. All of the horserace wagers had to be done through Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU), while sports wagers were monopolized by the Français de Jeux.

A complaint was filed to the European Commission in 2006. EU member states are allowed to ban gambling for reasons of public interest such as addiction prevention or to fight organized crime but cannot allow domestic operators to enjoy exclusive rights to a market while blocking cross-border competition entirely.

At first, France ignored the Commission’s requests but eventually amended their laws in 2009. However, there are some site owners who feel that the country is still in violation for blocking other online gambling activities – casinos, for instance. While sports betting has opened up, there are still frustrations over continuing to allow Pari Mutual Urbain to control the horserace industry.

At this time, the European Commission has closed all investigations into French gambling laws, satisfied with their licensing program which includes foreign website operators.

How Does France Regulate Gambling?

There are two regulatory authorities which oversee the entire gambling landscape in France. The Ministry of Home Affairs handles all issues of legalization and licensing for land-based gaming establishments. Online betting is the jurisdiction of Autorité de Régulation des Jeux en Ligne (ARJEL).

If a corporation wishes to provide services to the French people, they must first acquire the proper license from the proper government agency. They are available for providers hoping to offer poker, sports gambling, or horse track betting, with each activity requiring a specific license. Many sites choose to apply for all three.

After submitting an application, ARJEL begins their review process. They research numerous legal, financial, and technical factors, including agreements with major sports associations and the software the betting website will use. The entire licensing process may not take longer than four months, by law.

France also has strict rules in place for gambling-based advertisements. Any online ads are legally obligated to include a warning and a link to a government website dedicated to fighting addiction. They also must avoid sites which cater to minors and cannot buy television or radio ad time 30 minutes before or after programming for children.

France’s History with Gambling

The1500s
Queen playing Card
Sometime in the 16th century, residents of France make a lasting contribution to gambling culture. They introduce the queen into the 52-card deck, replacing a figure called the nobleman.

The1600s
The roulette wheel is invented by a French mathematician named Blaise Pascal. The game of roulette was then created around the invention. To this day, roulette is a staple of any casino floor and one of the more popular table games.

The1700s
A card game named “vingt et un” is created. The name directly translates to “twenty-one.” Blackjack eventually evolves out of this French invention. In both games, the object is to create a hand with a total value as close to 21 as possible, though the rules were different in these earlier versions.

1842
Francois and Louis Blanc update roulette by adding the green “0” space to the wheel. This improves the odds for the house.

1870
In approximately 1870, the French invent pari-mutuel betting. This is the kind of pool betting that’s used for wagering on horse or greyhound races. Any number of bettors may participate, which raises the value of the total pot. The top three finishers divide the stakes amongst themselves.

1842
Francois and Louis Blanc update roulette by adding the green “0” space to the wheel. This improves the odds for the house.

1987
The legal gambling age in France is lowered by three years, from 21 to 18.

1988
Queen playing Card
France legalizes slot machines, which fall under the order on the regulation of games in casinos. Like all gaming, slots are heavily regulated, with a minimum return rate of 85% enforced by the Minister of Home Affairs. Any changes to the rate of return must be cleared by the same licensing authority at least fifteen days before launching the new odds.

2001
In 2001, the government awarded monopolies over gambling sites in France by giving Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) exclusive rights to offer online betting on horseracing, while Francaise des Jeux (FDJ) is given the same deal for sports betting. France blocks any foreign operators attempting to provide competitive services to residents from across the country’s borders.

2005
In 2005, the European Commission receives complaints about France’s self-imposed gambling monopolies and refusal to license or permit access to betting sites headquartered in other EU jurisdictions.

2006
The European Commission formally opens an investigation and informs the French authorities that they are in violation of treaty laws requiring EU member states to treat offshore operations in a way that’s consistent with domestic regulations.

For example, if a country wants to ban all gaming as a public health measure, that’s acceptable; however, if they legalize gambling activities for certain local providers, they must also give foreign corporations from other EU states access to the same licensing procedures and offerings.

2009
France notifies the European Commission that they’ve amended their gambling laws.

2010
What is known as the French Gambling Act is passed in May of 2010. This opens the nation’s online gaming industry and creates ARJEL to act as the authoritative and licensing body. Three types of licenses are designed for the following activities: online sports betting, online horserace betting, and a specific selection of online poker games. Satisfied with the new regulations, which allow foreign site owners to apply for French licensing, the European Commission drops all investigations into the country’s gaming industry.

2019
After owning over 70% of Europe’s largest lottery operator (FDJ), France has decided to sell over half of its stake. This sale will bring generate roughly $12.28 billion dollars that the administration reportedly plans to use to finance innovation across the country.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which online gambling activities are legal in France?

There are currently three forms of gaming that are licensed and regulated in France. They are all considered skill-based games: poker, sports gambling, and horserace betting.

Which versions of poker are legal to play online in France?

France has strict regulations concerning poker, only legalizing specific versions of the game. These are the approved varieties to be played online, either in cash games or tournaments:

  • Texas Hold’em limit
  • Texas Hold’em pot limit
  • Texas Hold’em no limit
  • Omaha 4 high pot limit
  • Omaha 4 High/Low limit
  • Omaha 4 High/Low pot limit
  • Omaha Poker 5 High pot limit
  • Seven Card Stud Poker High limit
  • Seven Card Stud Poker High/Low limit
  • Seven Card Stud Poker Razz (or Low) limit
  • Triple draw deuce to seven (2-7) Lowball (or Low) limit

What are the risks involved with using a gambling website outside of France’s borders?

The only French gambling sites accessible while being hosted in other EU member countries have completed the local licensing process. Unlicensed offshore websites will most likely be blocked to French residents.

Does France tax winnings from online gambling?

Yes.

Sports betting – France taxes sports wagers at 5.7%. Another 1.8% is taken for social security contributions, and a final 1.8% tax is used to fund the National Centre for Sports.

Online horse betting – Online wagers on horse betting are taxed at 5.3%, with an additional 1.8% going to social security. The companies organizing and hosting the races also receive 6.3% of the wagers in taxes.

Online Poker – Online poker wagers are taxed at 1.8%, with an additional 0.2% for social security.

Who licenses the regulated and legal online betting sites in France?

The regulatory body which governs online gaming and licensing in France is the Autorite de Regulation des Jeux en Ligne (ARJEL), or “the Regulatory Authority for Online Games.”

Can I access one EU country’s legal online gambling site from another?

Yes, as long as they’re offering gambling services for horseracing, sports betting, or select versions of poker. These are the only three forms of betting played online legally and granted licenses by ARJEL. Before a website can open operations in France, they must first obtain all the necessary permits from the regulatory authority.