Paris may open gambling clubs

The government is looking at relaxing strict limits on gambling which ban casinos within 100km of the capital

GAMBLING ‘clubs’ similar to ones in London may open in Paris as soon as next year as the government looks into ways to relax the current strict limits on gambling there.

The idea could lead eventually to actual casinos, which have been banned by law from operating within 100km of the capital since 1920.

The government is said to be keen on the idea of casinos, but Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has said it is not really her “cup of tea”. A new report by an honorary Ile-de-France prefect, Jean-Pierre Duport, has shown that just one casino could bring in around €46million in taxes per year.

However, in the first instance the government has chosen to look at the less drastic of two options presented in the report – ‘gambling clubs’ of a select, very regulated nature, rather than casinos as such.

The possibility of an actual casino is in the hands of the mayor, who would first have to ask for Paris to be officially classified as a ‘tourist resort’. Gambling has been strictly regulated in France since a 1907 law, aimed at cutting gambling addiction, limiting it mainly to seaside resorts and on authorisation of the Interior Ministry.

Nonetheless, Mr Duport says it is ‘time for a debate’ on the issue and that allowing the opening of clubs, possibly from autumn 2016, could be a first step towards casinos.

Up until now gambling ‘circles’ have been allowed in the capital but operating strictly on a non-profit basis. However eight out of 10 of those that existed in 2008 have been closed down due to legal problems.