… shame I didn’t place a bet. Or rather, was unable to place a bet.
I spent some forty minutes or so before the ‘off’ trying, in vain, to get access to my Ladbrokes account in order to stick four pounds each way on Neptune Collonges. However, my efforts proved fruitless. So it was with heavy heart that I watched my nag cross the line at Aintree in first place. Mince!
Before you techie people punt in with a comment about ‘proxy’ services – a way you can trick websites into thinking you’re in a different country – I tried that too – but also without success.
A little digging as to why Grand Frère did not want me to place a bet using a foreign betting service reveals that that old French trait ‘protectionism’ has a lot to do with it. If, for example, I had tried to bet using the government’s own betting service PMU.fr – I would have met with no resistance (but I have 15 GBP sitting in my Ladbrokes account!).
The French, of course, don’t like it if you go abroad for something that you could get right here in France – if you bothered to look. Forget the free market or the single market – if it ain’t French you’re in for a hard time. Nowhere is this more evident than in the gambling sector where a recent law has ensured that the mountains of money flying into the coffers of off-shore gambling sites has been stopped, dead.
The 2010 law, that saw the creation of the Online Gaming Authority (ARJEL), uses as it’s pretext: consumer protection, the fight against money laundering and fraud … and the security and protection of the national sports industry. This last point enables ARJEL to block even legitimate foreign betting sites, like Ladbrokes, unless they pay-up for a license.
Of course, now that all gambling that takes place within the hexagon is subject to French tax the government are conducting themselves with total hypocrisy when it comes to advertising. On the one hand – they’re keen for you to get down to the PMU, to buy a lottery ticket as often as possible and to take up online Poker as your preferred pastime – but on the other hand – their responsibility for regulation means they must also try to discourage you from taking up gambling in the first place. Judging by the saturating of the airwaves with ads for Poker, horses and lottos – they don’t take the ‘consumer protection’ element of their mission terribly seriously.
The question is: if François Hollande does become the next President of the Republic – would he change anything? Personally, I wouldn’t bet on it.