France’s Gaming Advisory Committee begins work

15th March 2011 9:45 am GMT

The final element of France’s liberalised gaming market was put in place yesterday with the appointment of the Comité Consultatif des Jeux (CCJ), established to advise government on the ongoing regulation of the sector.

A panel of 19 members make up the committee and two special subcommittees, one dealing with gambling games and the other focused on sports betting. Charles Coppolani , head of general  economic and financial control at the Ministry of Economy & Finance,  will serve as president.

Speaking yesterday at the launch of the CCJ at the Ministry of Finance, Budget Minister François Baroin said that the committee’s main objectives in the coming months will be to continue the fight against illegal gambling, address issues of taxation relating to horserace betting, and the prevention of corruption in sports.

Baroin said that 410 sites are currently the subject of a formal notice concerning illegal gambling, but that the overall illegal gambling market share has dropped from over 65 per cent before last year’s liberalisation to approximately 20 per cent today.

“In less than a year, the illegal market has become a minority, it has become the exception where it was the rule,” said Baroin.

The budget minister said the next target of the CCJ will be “big gamblers”, those players that circumvent the licensing system by downloading applications which enable them to play at illegal sites. He said that these players represent between 10 and 15 per cent of the market and will no longer be tolerated.

With regard to the tax system, Baroin said that the government will vigorously defend its right to impose a levy on horseracing at the European Commission, but added that he does not view other questions regarding gambling taxation as a priority - a reference to increasing calls for the tax on sportsbetting to be reduced.

Addressing the issue of corruption in sports, Baroin said that the “right to bet”, which requires operators to pay a fee to sports organisers for the right to offer bets on their events, is needed in order to finance the fight against corruption, and that more progress should be made in this area.

Baroin added that he foresees no need to liberalise the offline gambling market in France and that there is no question of opening that sector to competition. He said the online gaming market was liberalised in order to “restore the rule of law” and ensure social order.

“It is not the same for activities in the physical network, which are carried out by existing monopolies,” he said.  “The land-based market is regulated and complies with our rules of public and social order. There is therefore no question of opening these gaming activities to competition.”

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