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Maltese gaming industry to benefit as France lifts restrictions

France has finally liberalised its on-line gaming industry, a development which is expected to directly benefit Malta Gaming, which hosts many on-line gaming companies.

The European Commission announced today that it had closed infringement procedures against France as it was now satisfied that French citizens have access to a wider choice of duly authorised on-line gambling services as a result of amendments to French laws.

Malta gaming companies had in the past few years been involved in several complex court cases as France sought to protect its state monopolies.

Malta had also been lobbying Brussels to enforce a European court decision declaring the restrictions imposed by France over foreign on-line operators as illegal. The Commission had started infringement procedures against Paris demanding that the French authorities change their laws and open the market for more competition.

“This is a very important development for the future of Malta’s online gaming industry,” a spokesman of an online gaming agency based in Malta said.

“We have argued for a long time that on-line gaming companies cannot be restricted in other EU jurisdictions and we hope that the decision by France to will now be followed by other EU member sates which are still restricting us to penetrate their markets,” the official said.

The European Commission is also handling similar issues with Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden and is insisting that they too must open their online gaming sectors.

Before France changed its law, French residents who wished to engage into on-line gambling and betting activities could only choose between two French operators that offered a limited selection of such services, Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU), for horse racing, and the Français de Jeux, for all other forms of sports betting. Both enjoyed exclusive rights to organise certain forms of sports betting on-line (and in shops). As a result, no other European gambling operator could offer its online services in France.

Maltese gambling operators now have the possibility to apply for French licences and offer their services in France. Nevertheless, gambling continues to be safeguarded in the general interest in order to protect vulnerable consumers and to prevent gambling addiction as well as criminal activities.

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