As you may be able to guess by all the casinos in France, gambling in the country is definitely legal. But if you decide to make a gaming pilgrimage to the some of classiest casinos in the world, and home of the roulette wheel, it’s important to have an overview of the law – you don’t want to get caught out in a foreign country! Lucky Nugget have got you covered though. Here’s our handy guide to gambling laws in France.
French gambling laws
France is very gaming-friendly, as you’d expect from the country which houses so many fantastic land-based casinos. In 1987, the legal age for gambling was moved from 21 down to 18, and slot machines were legalised in 1988. However, slot machines and casino games are not legal in licensed French online casinos: they can only be played in brick-and-mortar establishments.
On the downside, many high-rolling players don’t like gambling in France. Poker pots and sports bets have high taxation, meaning you take home less than what you actually win. This is why many French players prefer to bet in other countries, or using unlicensed foreign websites as opposed to playing in French land-based casinos.
What about online gambling?
Online gambling was legalised in 2010, after a period of very restrictive gaming laws. This change brought it into line with the rest of the EU, and created a regulatory body who oversee licensing and monitoring online gambling in France.
However, online gaming licenses only cover sports betting and video poker. Games like slot machines and roulette aren’t offered by French-licensed online casinos, due to the government’s concerns that they could be too addictive. But the laws in place mean that French players are cut off from the international poker scene, and as such licensed sites often find it hard to keep running thanks to their very limited player pool.
French online casinos have to pay 33% corporation tax, as well as 2% on their poker pots, 7.5% on all sports bets and an additional 8% levy on horse-racing bets. This has led to nearly 50% of the sites who got licenses in 2010 leave the market since, and in 2015, French licensed operators reported a total net loss of €5 million.
Many French gamers instead play on gambling sites which are unlicensed in France. This means that the players have no legal recourse if the casino wrongs them, but they are not subjected to the high taxation of France’s laws. People in France who use unlicensed casino sites are not breaking French law, and cannot be prosecuted for this, so there’s no harm in it so long as it’s a site that you definitely trust.
In summary, then, playing in brick and mortar casinos in France is fine. However, playing online casino games is tricky due to the licensing. If you’re a visitor to the country, it probably won’t impact you though, and you can return to your normal online gaming schedule once you get home.