If you would rather read this article in French, please use the following link — Cliquez ici pour la version en français
France is a great country to live if you enjoy betting online. Recreational gamblers are not taxed and sports betting, horse race (turf) betting, and poker online are legal when using French licensed websites. Some of the largest operators from Europe have a licence, and state owned PMU has their own gambling site pmu.fr as well. In this article I’ll cover using French licensed sites, the most popular sports available for online betting, and discuss history and betting laws. First, below is a list of our favourite online bookmakers that are fully legal in France.
122% up to €100
100% up to €100
To bet online from France you’ll need to open an account with a French licensed bookmaker and make a deposit. The deposit options available at each are many. All legal gambling sites accept MasterCard, VISA and VISA Electron credit and debit cards. The betting sites mentioned on this page also accept popular e-wallets PayPal, Skrill and NETELLER. If you prefer to deal in cash you can purchase a PaySafeCard voucher and use it to deposit with www.betclic.fr. These vouchers are sold by private retailers and also at mobile phone shops, petrol stations and various other locations. You can click here to find the closest locations by using your zip code. Once funded, you can wager up to the amount of your account balance. When you’re ready to collect your balance or winnings this can be done via check, bank wire or the aforementioned e-wallets.
Football is no doubt the most popular sport for betting online from France. For Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 BetClic offers Cotes Max each day. These are promotional odds on select doubles that pay up to a 15% higher return than the traditional odds. You’ll also find football betting options from all over the world such as English Premier League, Italian Series A, and Spanish La Liga. There are over three dozen football leagues available for betting most anytime of the year, week or day.
Other popular sports available for internet betting are tennis, rugby, handball, and Formula 1. You can also bet volleyball, ice hockey, baseball, American football, biathlon, snooker and other sports. When you’re new to betting online you can essentially try it for free. At www.betclic.fr if your first bet loses they will replace it 100% up to a 100€ maximum. This is the promotion they use to attract new players to use their website.
In case you’re curious about the history of gambling in France I will cover it in the selection below. But understand betting online from France is very easy because these websites that use .fr at the end of their name are all legal. These betting sites are licensed by ARJEL who regulates them and makes sure they are regulated and are 100% fair to customers.
France has a long history with gambling. In the 1500’s we were the first to add the Queens to decks of poker cards. In the 17th century French mathematician Blaise Pascal invented the roulette wheel. When the government banned all forms of gambling other than horse racing in 1836, underground gambling dens began popping up.
This is when in 1842 brothers Louis Blanc and Francois converted Pascal’s invention to a gambling device by adding the zero. While illegal lotteries and casinos thrived, sports betting was largely limited to Horse Racing. In 1867 we invented pari-mutuel betting which is still the primary way horse racing is bet around the world today. Betting on sports didn’t come about until later that century when sports competitions started to developed.
In the late 1880’s football was not yet popular and cricket was the developing sport. As bookies began popping up offering sports lotteries, fixed odds, and pool bets, this was a viewed as a threat to the horse racing industry. Although already illegal under the 1836 Act, French Parliament specifically banned all forms of fixed-odds betting and non-horse racing pool betting in 1891. This same act brought forward state owned Pari Mutuel Hippodrome (“PMH”) which legally accepted pool bets on horse racing. At the turn of the century, football and other sports began developing and illegal bookies were rampant. To gain control in the 1920’s to 1930’s various forms of gambling became legal when using state owned betting companies. The primary ones established were Française des Jeux (FDJ) for betting games and lotteries and Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) for horse race betting.
For many decades state owned FDJ and PMU remained gambling monopolies in France. A great deal of their profits has been contributed to financing sports, which helped assist football in becoming our number one sport. As the benefits of legalized gambling became more apparent, gambling restrictions continued to be lifted. In 1983, pool-betting greyhounds became legal. In 1987, the legal gambling age was lowered from 21 to 18. In 1997, Basque pelota betting was legalised. Then in 2001, the biggest innovation in French gambling came about when FDJ and PMU received permission to offer their services online.
The revenues each company generated increased greatly once they moved into the online world. Profits in the hundreds of millions of Euro is distributed each year to Centre National de Développement du Sport which supports local athletes preparing for competitions as well as small sports clubs. Additional profit is now contributed to various charities. These include the French Red Cross, the cancer charity Odysséa, the Leukodystrophy charity ELA, and Secours populaire français — a charity that sends hundreds of children from low income families on vacation to watch the Tour de France.
Both PMU and FDJ continue to operate, but no longer have a monopoly. In 2010, the market was opened, giving companies in other European Union member states the opportunity to apply for a French Gambling licence. This saw the creation of French Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne (English: “Regulatory authority for online games”) referred to simply as ARJEL. They provide the licence betting sites need to operate legally. As of September 2012, there are 68 legal French gambling sites. Most offer one or two offerings such as poker and sports betting, while sites such as www.betclic.fr offer sports betting, horse race betting and poker, all from the same website. Also worth noting, to date, no gambling site offers traditional casino games or spread betting. These are viewed as highly addictive, were left off the legislation, and remain illegal for online gambling.