France Delays Unibet Re-Entry

Henrik Tjarnstrom, Unibet’s chief expressed his utter disappointment toward the French government’s inability to lower the egaming tax rate for 2011. Reason being it hampered Unibet’s re-entry to the French market. Francois Barion French budget minister said tax rates will not be lowered before the 2012 elections.

Tjarnstrom’s operator must still enter the regulated market in spite of securing licences for poker, sports betting and pari-mutuel horse race betting (through a partnership with Zeturf). He said, “As stipulated in the communication around our Q4s in February, we submit an application for licences based on profits and France is not a very lucrative environment right now. There are other ventures we could pursue, unless the conditions become more favourable here we’ll have to look at other alternatives to make cash. So far the opening looks bleak.

“The license is in our possession, right now it’s all about timing and allocating the necessary resources. In our February Q4 update we mentioned this would be the end of Q2, however this will now take place toward the end of the year.”

Private gambling sites like BetClic Everest, Bwin, Zeturf and Chiligaming voiced their concerns pertaining to the present French tax system and said it is impractical to yield profits. At the end of the day players will suffer since they won’t be able to offer them competitive sign-up bonuses and alternative packages.

The French gaming’s’ agent, L’Association Française du Jeu en Ligne (AFJEL), announced its formation recently (replacing AFOJEL) and it aims to convince the French government to review its current regulatory framework and to speed up new reforms that will stand the market in good stead.

BetClic Everest and president of AFJEL Nicolas Beraud “put three options on the table that will sweeten the pot for online casinos and that will attract more players”. We aim to replace the current tax with a gross profit tax, regulate operators and to separate them from land-based casinos. The latter proposal is geared to enable private operators to compete on a fair basis with previous monopolies PMU and FDJ.

The European Commission (EC) had its “reservations” that the internet tax administration in tandem with the monopoly and lower tax on land-based products does not favour online gambling. As it is the French systems is geared towards an unlawful form of State Aid for the country’s racing industry. The French Competition Commission expressed the same concerns.



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