France Ready for Compromise on Gambling Monopoly
By staff
According to a piece in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, a leading French politician has announced that his nation is not ready to drop key elements of rules limiting online gambling but may consider loosening the monopoly on horse racing.

Budget Minister Eric Woerth said in an interview published this week that France would not consider letting foreign operators in just because they are recognised in another European nation.

'We are not opposed to a certain opening but we will remain firm on certain points,' Woerth said. 'Just because an operator is recognised in a foreign country is no reason for us to have to open our gates to them in France. We intend to keep control of authorisations. The question of tax should also be looked at because we want to keep control of that.”

The European Commission has launched preliminary legal action against France over what it deems as restrictions on foreign online sports betting firms and Woerth is due to meet Internal Markets Commissioner Charlie McCreevy to discuss the disagreement.

He stated that France would be prepared to consider loosening the monopoly currently held by betting firm PMU.

'Operators apart from the PMU could be accepted but we want to keep the principle of pari-mutuel,' Woerth said.

Pari-mutuel is the system in which the total amount of money bet on a race is placed in a pool and divided among winners after deductions for tax and expenses and Woerth stated that fixed-odds betting would also not be allowed.

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