Gambling, casinos, slot halls and online casinos in France
Gambling industry in France has a long history. The country contributed to the development of popular casino games. In the 1500s, the Queen was added to the deck of cards, replacing the Nobleman. In the 17th century, the French mathematician Blaise Pascal invented the roulette wheel, which later led to the introduction of the roulette game. In the 19th century, Frenchmen François and Louis Blanc introduced the single 0 style roulette wheel in order to compete against other casinos offering the traditional wheel.
The modern French are a gambling nation. According to the statistics, 39% of French people declared that they gambled sometimes in 2019 (https://www.statista.com/statistics/991184/population-gambling-france/). In 1987, the minimum gambling age in the country was lowered from 21 to 18. In 1988, slots machines, which were previously banned, became legal. In 2010, France legalized online gambling which is supervised by the ARJEL (Regulatory Authority for Online Games).
Laws and Regulators
Decree No. 2008-612 (June, 2008) on the organization of the central administration of the Ministry of the Interior enables the Central Directorate of the Judicial Police to supervise land-based gambling in France. According to the decree, the SCCJ (Service Central des Course et Jeux) within the Central Directorate of the Judicial Police is responsible for the supervision of gambling establishments, racetracks, horse and sports betting and other forms of gambling. The SCCJ ensures the compliance with gambling legislation, regulation of the land-based gambling sector, protection of the players, and the defense of the interests of the State, as well as carries out the administrative inquiries relating to gambling. The SCCJ is composed of four divisions: The Judicial Affairs Division and the Observatory of New Technology Games; the Division of General Surveillance of Casinos and Racetracks; the Racing Division; and the Logistics and Operational Coordination Division.
The Division of General Surveillance of Casinos and Racetracks includes: the “control and studies” section and the “surveillance” section. The “control and studies” section is responsible for the technical and regulatory control of casinos and the handling of cases submitted to the Superior Commission of Games. The “surveillance” section deals with accreditation inquiries or administrative sanctions for staff, as well as ensures compliance with the regulation of games. The Division also participates in reviewing the regulation of gambling in casinos – the Decree of December, 1959, regulating gambling in the resort casinos, and the Interministerial Decree of May, 2007, regulating gambling in casinos (https://www.police-nationale.interieur.gouv.fr/Organisation/Direction-Centrale-de-la-Police-Judiciaire/Service-central-des-courses-et-jeux).
The Law No 2010-476 of May 12, 2010 on the introduction of competition and sector regulation of gambling and online gambling is often referred to as “the French Gambling Act”. It came into force on May 13, 2010 and opened the online gambling market in France, as well as created an official body to regulate the industry – the ARJEL.
The ARJEL is responsible for guiding, regulating and controlling online gambling in France (http://www.arjel.fr/). The ARJEL issues licenses that allow online gambling operators to offer their gambling services to French consumers. The Agency ensures compliance with legal and regulatory obligations and can initiate a sanction procedure against an operator if they are not authorized. The legislative mechanism ensures the protection of players, the security of gaming operations, fighting against illegal websites and money laundering, as well as the proper taxation (http://www.arjel.fr/-Role-et-missions-.html).
Land Based Casinos
There are currently about 200 licensed land-based casinos located throughout France and in overseas territories, with the majority under the control of four large groups: Barriere, Partouche, JOA, and Tranchant. In 2017, the casino gaming revenue in France amounted to EUR 2.31 billion (https://www.statista.com/statistics/545599/casino-gaming-revenue-france/).
Most French casinos are located along the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic coast and in Normandy. They are usual in major seaside and tourist resorts. Casinos in France offer classic casino games such as Blackjack, Roulette, and Baccarat. The legal gambling age in French casinos is 18.
There are eight legalized casinos in Paris. Poker is a favorite in France, and Parisian casinos have elegant Poker rooms. They do not offer slots machines. The nearest casino with slots is located in Enghien-les-Bains (11 kilometers outside Paris).
The online gambling market is competitive and includes three sectors: poker games, horse race, and sports betting. The gross gaming revenue of the French online market in 2018 amounted to EUR 1.205 billion (an increases by over 25% compared to 2017). The number of French players on the sites of online casinos was between 0.3 and 0.5 million. An average player spent EUR 452 gambling online in 2018 (http://www.arjel.fr/IMG/pdf/20190213CP.pdf). Only in the second quarter of 2019, the amount of bets generated in online casinos was over EUR 1 billion (http://www.arjel.fr/IMG/pdf/2019T2.pdf).
The ARJEL bans the websites which offer bets to French players without any authorization and act without any control. The sites approved by the ARJEL offer all guarantees to their players. The List of approved operators is published on the Agency’s website (http://www.arjel.fr/-Liste-des-operateurs-agrees-.html). The ARJEL also offers some recommendations that will help players gamble online safely (http://www.arjel.fr/-Bonnes-pratiques-.html). The categories of events, or games, on which the online gambling operators are authorized to offer bets, can be found on the website, too (http://www.arjel.fr/-Jeux-et-paris-autorises-.html).
French players, for example, can play on fdj.fr (https://www.fdj.fr/). This state-owned company offers various online games and sports bets.