Q & A: Wes Himes

25 January 2008

You've probably heard rumblings that the French government is examining the possibility of online gambling regulation. You've probably also caught wind of a mid-March "resolution" between the European Commission and the Sarkozy administration.

But what's actually happening?

IGN spoke with Wes Himes, managing partner of public affairs consultancy Policy Action, about the political and legal goings-on in one of the European Union's most closely guarded gambling jurisdictions.

IGN: In the media, beginning with a report in a French paper last September, there has been a lot of discussion about a "controlled opening." What's happening?

Wes Himes: The French government has indicated following discussions with the European Commission a willingness to look at and possibly propose a regulated regime for the provision of online gambling and betting. That was in the last quarter of 2007.

IGN: What's happened subsequently?

WH: Since then, the French government has appointed a top civil servant to conduct what is called a mission, and he's been having consultations across all of the stakeholder groups, starting in December and continuing through to date.

IGN: What will this civil servant look to produce?

WH: He'll be drafting a report for sometime before the summer, which will provide a sort of background on the industry and most likely make some recommendations as to how to accommodate and regulate an online gambling market in France.

IGN: What then?

WH: That's the bottom line, really, and I imagine people will be making submissions to this civil servant's project, and the government will then most likely enter a period of reflection on the report. Then, political decisions will have to be made sometime this year on whether to go ahead with the report, to go ahead with parts of the report, or not go ahead at all.

At that point, if they decide to go ahead, then I presume the government will get down to the business of actually drafting a bill for consideration by French parliament.

IGN: What about the rumors of a Mid-March 2008 "resolution?"

WH: Well, I think March 2008 might be correct for the report; but I think in terms of actually seeing legislation, we're quite far from there right now.

Chris Krafcik is the editor of IGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Mo.