UK gaming companies have been hardly hit by the economic downturn. Some big names of the online industry have even chosen to move out from UK and establish operation servers in other jurisdictions, with more lenient taxation systems.
In order to counter the slowdown in British industry, the national operators are turning to the closest markets likely to be soon regulated. Party Gaming, William Hill or 888 Holdings could take a breath of fresh air if they extend their operations in France.
A bill on French market opening will be examined by the nationalParliament on 7 and 8 October. After the law enter into force, local and foreign operators wishing to run poker or sports betting sites will be able to apply for a license to the competent authority.
Jim Ryan, the CEO of PartyGaming manifested big interest for this “great opportunity”. According to the consultancy company H2 Gambling Capital, sales in online gambling will be more than doubled in 2010, the growth being guaranteed by the legal framework. “France is the single largest market on the horizon,” nods Simon Holliday, Head of H2.
France decided to open its market after the authorities had realized that the prohibitory legislation encouraged the illegal offers. This was also a positive response to the pressures made by the European Commission. The EC has several times cautioned UE member states to reform gambling legislation and open their markets. In numerous European countries, the prohibitive legislation is a bar to the free movement of services, a principle set forth in EU Treaties.