French MPs: Internet Prohibition an 'Impossible Task'

11 February 2008

Two French MPs were recently sent to investigate I-gaming Web sites operating out of 12 liberalized jurisdictions. Their findings, released on Friday, could have some influence on French policymakers as they work toward a final decision on whether to loosen the state-controlled monopoly over certain forms of Internet gambling.

Wes Himes, managing partner of public affairs consultancy Policy Action, told IGN that the report -- compiled by Emile Blessig, MP for the seventh district of Bas-Rhin, and Jacques Myard, counselor for foreign affairs -- indicates that maintaining a prohibitionist regime for something as ubiquitous as the Internet is an impossible task.

Moreover, he said, they recommend embracing the opportunities the Internet provides and looking at ways to create a regulated market, rather than a protectionist market, which the two said does nothing more than help grow the black market.

Himes suggested that Blessig and Myard, members of the EC Committee of the Assemblee Nationale, were likely instructed to proceed with this investigation independent of the mission currently being undertaken by top civil servant Bruno Durieux.

But their findings will certainly go to influence Durieux's final report, Himes said.

"It will be one of many reports, I'm sure, that he will be looking at when considering his final report," he added.

Himes said as far as he is aware, the French government is still working toward a controlled opening of the country's online gambling market.

He said that details of what the opening would look like remain to be seen.

Emily Swoboda is the senior staff writer at IGamingNews. She lives in St. Louis, Mo.