France has a rich gambling history. After all, two of the most well-liked casino games, including roulette and baccarat, are of French origin. Betting on sports is another popular entertainment in France. Figures from Statista show that the county’s gross gaming revenue of the sports betting sites reached €1.4 billion as of 2021.
Catholicism is the main religion in France, which explains why gambling was illegal for years. Fortunately, the country changed its stance on the matter and legalized some forms of gambling activities. Today, online sports betting in France is legal, but the number of licensed betting sites is quite limited.
Best Sports Betting Sites in France
At the moment of writing, the online sportsbooks authorized to operate on French soil are thin on the ground. But considering the strict regulations imposed on operators, sports fans can have the peace of mind that they will enjoy a safe betting experience if they pick one of the following sportsbooks.
Best Sports Betting Bonuses in France
Licensed betting sites pamper their registrants with various sports betting bonuses. A crucial thing to note is that in 2022, France’s gambling regulator issued a series of guidelines regarding the bonuses offered to sports fans. Under the new rules, operators must provide more transparency when it comes to the bonuses they offer. Moreover, sports betting sites must include information on the nature of the rewards. The regulator also asked its licensees not to offer promotions exceeding €100.
Match Deposit Bonuses
Online sportsbooks aimed at French bettors can take advantage of match deposit bonuses provided that they make a qualifying deposit. The betting site will match your deposit by a certain percentage up to a given amount. Note that you must clear a playthrough requirement to cash out your profits. Besides, most online sportsbooks impose minimum odds requirements on promotions. Punters have a limited time to satisfy the bonus turnover.
Punters from France can claim a free bet bonus that will provide them with the opportunity to place a wager without risking their funds. A crucial thing to mention is that sports fans cannot withdraw money from the free bets. With the free bet bonus, you can wager on a sporting event and collect the winnings from the wager if it settles as a win. To claim a free bet bonus, you may be required to make a deposit.
Risk-free bets are another promotion offered at many French betting sites. Bettors can place a bet on a preferred sporting event and collect a profit if the wager wins. But if it loses, you will get back the amount you wagered in free bets. Unlike free bets, risk-free bets require sports fans to place a real-money wager.
Online betting sites accepting French punters often enhance the odds of a given outcome of a particular sporting event. This way, bettors can win more money without adding more risk. Operators usually offer enhanced odds on specific betting markets. Punters must place a qualifying wager, and the odds will be enhanced automatically.
Betting Regulation in France
When it comes to sports betting, football is the most popular sport among French punters. Other sports that garner a great deal of attention from French bettors include football, tennis, horse racing, cycling, basketball, golf, and handball.
But for decades, all forms of gambling were outlawed in France. But this did not prevent punters from placing bets on sports. This created a huge black market and made French legislators consider regulating this pastime.
In 1985, France legalized sports betting and established a monopoly held by Française des Jeux (FDJ). Pari Mutuel Urbain, on the other hand, was the only company authorized to offer horse racing betting. In 1987, the country lowered the minimum gambling age from 21 to 18, and only a year later, slot machines were regulated.
France Regulates Online Sports Betting
France has been a member country of the European Union since 1958. Free trade among its members is one of the EU’s principles, and gambling monopolies are against it. In 2007, the European Commission requested French legislators to amend the country’s gambling law and make it compliant with EU laws.
In 2009, legislators introduced a bill to open the French gambling market to operators from EU countries. A year later, the so-called Gambling Act came into force to regulate the online sports betting market and establish licensing conditions for international operators. Initially, Autorité de Régulation des Jeux En Ligne (ARJEL) was responsible for overseeing the sports betting market, but in 2019, Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) took over from ARJEL.
Obtaining a license to operate in France is not an easy feat. One of the requirements for operators to be eligible for a license is to be headquartered in the EU. That explains why the number of licensed betting sites is quite limited. From 2020, sports betting operators have to pay a tax of 33.8% on their gross gaming revenue (a total of 55.2% when all additional taxes are added). Before that, bookmakers were taxed on the basis of their turnover.
Another thing to mention is that operators must obtain two different licenses if they want to be able to accept bets on sports and horse races. Fortunately, there is no cap on the number of licenses the regulator can award.
French Regulator Introduces Measures to Prevent Gambling Problems
French residents must be at least 18 years old to wager on sports. As mentioned earlier, the minimum gambling age was lowered from 21 to 18 in 1987. To prevent punters from gambling problems, the French regulator issued a series of player protection rules in 2021. Every bettor should be provided with the opportunity to self-exclude at any time. What is more, all operators must offer responsible gambling tools, and sports fans must be allowed to set deposit and play time limits.
In 2022, the French regulator launched four 30-second videos that focus on the importance of gambling rules. The short films aim to remind people that they have to keep their gambling sessions in check and inform them about the different responsible gambling tools.
In 20222, the French gambling regulator also updated its advertising guidelines, banning all gambling commercials suggesting that gambling can improve social status or show unrealistic chances of winning. Besides, operators were required to limit advertising to three commercials per platform per day. The regulator also asked operators to offer welcome bonuses of no more than €100.
Speaking of restrictions, we have to note that spread betting and betting exchanges are illegal in France. Besides, the Justice Ministry in France banned online casino games of chance in a bid to minimize the risk of gambling problems among French residents. That being said, the only forms of online gambling that are allowed in France are sports betting, poker, and horse race betting.
Who regulates the online sports betting industry in France?
Until 2019, Autorité de Régulation des Jeux En Ligne (ARJEL) was responsible for regulating the gambling industry in France. In June 2020, Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) officially took over from ARJEL and is now the body that oversees all forms of gambling in the country.
Do I have to pay taxes on my gambling winnings?
No, winnings obtained from sports betting activities are tax-free. No taxes apply to lottery winnings, too. However, French residents must declare casino winnings that exceed €1,500 and pay a tax of 12%.
What are the most popular payment methods in France?
French punters who join a licensed sports betting site can use reliable payment methods to manage their bankrolls. Debit/credit cards by Visa and Mastercard are preferred by the majority of French bettors. However, eWallets such as Skrill, Neteller, ecoPayz, and Paylib are also quite popular among French residents. Bettors who are reluctant to share their banking credentials can resort to Paysafecard or Ticket Premium (also known as Ticketsurf).
Can I use the services of offshore betting sites?
The law does not prosecute punters who decide to use the services of offshore betting sites. However, French sports fans can pick from a decent range of licensed sportsbooks and have the peace of mind that the betting site is fair.
Are there any mobile-friendly sportsbooks that accept French punters?
Yes, reputable betting sites licensed by the French gambling authority are optimized to run smoothly on handheld devices. While some offer an in-browser app only, others provide punters with the opportunity to download and install a dedicated app on their touchscreen gadgets.