You might think that given France is famous for its land-based casinos which dot the Riviera, that it would be one of the most open countries in the world when it comes to online gambling, Surprisingly, that isn’t really the case, though. French gambling laws – where they relate to online gambling – are considerably stricter than many of their European neighbours. What does this mean for online casinos in France and the French players who want to play there? Read on to find out more.
Can I Gamble Online in France?
Officially, you can gamble online in France. However, the current French gambling laws place quite a few restrictions on what you can and cannot do. If you want to pop into any of the licensed land-based gambling venues, you are free to do that. However, it is a slightly different story when it comes to online gambling in France.
A Brief Look at the Gambling Laws in France
The current French gambling laws come from 2010. Known as Law 2010-476, they state that any internet gambling operations which fall under the jurisdiction of ARJEL (Autorité de Régulation des Jeux en Ligne) are considered legal in the country. There are one or two exceptions, though. The Pari-Mutuel Union (PMU) has some jurisdiction when it comes to sports betting, and La Française des Jeux (FDJ) still oversees some aspects of the land-based betting world.
Under the current laws, sports betting (although not betting exchanges), poker gaming and lotteries are all considered legal. However, online casino and bingo games are not. Despite, ARJEL having the power (in theory) to legalise online casino gaming in France, there are no real online casinos which are currently operational – at least not what most players would be conventional online casinos.
Online Gambling in France
As things stand, players are not going to be able to wager at French online casinos with ease. That presents players in France with a bit of a problem. We know that players in the country do still bet on online casino games. So, how do they go about doing that?
Players in France opt to play at offshore casinos. These are domains which are not licensed in France and operate from overseas. Of course, the French authorities do not take too kindly to this. They have tried to blacklist foreign casinos, commanding their ISPs (internet service providers) to do so. However, this has been a mostly unsuccessful operation. It is possible to get around these blocking measures with a half-decent VPN (virtual private network), and as there are no punishments for French residents and nationals betting at these sites, many millions choose to do so. That is most likely going to be your best chance of gambling online in France.
Why Play at a French Online Casino?
Well, for a start, you cannot. There is not really any such thing as a bona fide French online casino. Instead, when we refer to French casinos, we are usually talking about offshore casinos which cater to players in France. So, what can these casinos offer, and why should you join them?
- You Have No Choice: As online casino gaming is typically forbidden in France; players have no choice but to visit foreign casinos if they wish to wager on these games from their home. That is as good a reason as any.
- French Language Gaming: Because of the popularity of the French language, many offshore casinos decide to offer gameplay in French (if only for Canadian players), and that makes things extra easy for a French national or resident to find somewhere to play in their own language.
- Casino Games Aplenty: French players typically play at the larger offshore casinos. These domains will usually carry sports betting and bingo gameplay, as well as online casino games. At an offshore casino, you can play all these games in one fell swoop and under one roof.
- They Get Around Banking Bans: Some French financial institutions will try and actively stop you from transferring money to and from your bank for gambling purposes. However, by playing at offshore casinos, you can often find an alternative source for banking online. This gets around some of these bans.
- A Wealth of Choices: Those betting sites are legal in France are few and far between. If you want to play at a more extensive choice of online gambling domains, you do need to visit these offshore casino sites. You will have a far wider selection of sites to choose from, ensuring that there is something for everyone.
Finding the Best French Online Casinos
Irrespective of whether you play at a licensed French betting site (which are, again, quite rare), or visit an offshore casino, you should always ensure that the website you play at is amongst the best in the business, especially when opting to play at the latter. Here are a few things the best things your chosen casino should be offering:
- Safety and Security: They may not be licensed out of France, but offshore and foreign casinos should still be licensed and regulated. There are plenty of offshore casinos which accept players from France which are dodgy. Make sure that yours offers fair and responsible gaming and is certified to do so.
- Offers Fair Terms: Most of the legal and licensed French casinos you will come across are unlikely to carry too many promos and bonuses. These are far more numerous at offshore casinos. However, any site which is worth your time will have fair terms and conditions attached to these offers.
- A Variety of Games: It is legal for you to place sports bets and play poker games online in France. Any betting site you choose to play at should offer you more than that. Ideally, your chosen domain will also provide you casino, bingo, and lottery games, alongside sports betting and poker action.
- French Services: As mentioned above, being able to play in French and use the euro currency are perks. However, having customer support in French, and being able to deposit using easy-to-access payment methods are things any online casino aiming to lure players from France should offer.
Your Questions Answered: Our FAQ Guide on French Online Casino Gambling
If you still have a question or two on French online casino gambling, we will try and help you with this brief FAQ (frequently asked questions) guide.
If you opt to play at a domain licensed out of France, you can rest assured that it is safe. However, the best sites tend to be offshore domains. Make sure you check your chosen domain’s services with the criteria listed above before playing there.
Not really. There is a law which says that online casinos cannot operate in France. There is not a law which says you cannot play at them. For that reason, it is not illegal for you to visit an offshore casino if you reside in France.
Players must be aged 18 or older to wager in France. It was lowered from 21 years to 18 in 1987.
There are good offshore casinos that accept players from France and some which are not so good. If you do your homework and check each site thoroughly, you are likely to end up at a good and respectable casino. As with any website, some can be trusted, and some cannot.
France is one of the few major EU countries to legalise cryptocurrencies, so it is possible to bet with Bitcoin at French casinos. Moreover, Sofort, Skrill, Neteller, Rapid Transfer, and pay-by-mobile options are also commonly found at French casinos.
Most French licensed domains do not typically offer bonuses and promotions. However, casinos which are based offshore will usually feature plenty of them. As you are not forbidden from visiting these sites, there is no law which says you cannot claim bonuses and promotions, either.