A NEW law legalising online gambling in France has finally been approved by parliament after a series of delays.
The plan to license online operators offering sporting bets, horse racing and poker should now come into force in time for this summer's football World Cup.
MPs approved the bill last November but it was delayed heading through the Senate.
The government wanted to act quickly to avoid missing out on the tournament in South Africa this June, which will bring in extra tax revenue.
The law, which was passed by 299 votes to 223, rids La Française des Jeux and PMU of their monopoly positions on French gambling and horse betting.
Online providers will be required to apply for a licence from the Autorité de Régulation des Jeux en Ligne, legalising their activity for five years at a time.
There are an estimated 20,000 websites operating in France that offer gambling. Illegal operators face up to three years in prison and a €45,000 fine.
The government hopes that regulating online gambling will make it easier to fight money-laundering, keep minors out of the market and protect consumers from addiction.
France's first World Cup match in South Africa is on June 11, against Uruguay.