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France opens market to online gaming

PARIS, Jun 8 – France officially opened up its online gaming market on Tuesday, granting 17 licences to 11 operators three days before the start of the soccer World Cup in South Africa.

A decree published in the Official Journal said three types of bets were concerned: on horse racing, betting on organised sports events and taking part in games like poker.

The Authority for Online Gaming Regulation (Arjel) said operators with a licence for football or sporting bets could start their activities as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday, in time for the World Cup, while the third category would get under way at the end of the month.

Under a law passed last month, the liberalisation ends 471 years of state momopoly on gambling established by an edict of king Francois I in 1539. Since then gambling had been under the authority of the state which delegated its monopoly to casinos, the national lottery and horse racing body the PMU.

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