Paris says ‘non’ to casinos

Paris says ‘non’ to casinos

Friday, June 19, 2015
Bernard Cazeneuve now supports London-style gambling clubs

The French government has abandoned the idea of returning casinos to Paris for the first time in a century after opposition from local politicians.

A taskforce, headed by Jean-Pierre Duport, president of the regulatory Consultative Commission of Circle Game and Casinos, was established earlier this year to look at the possibility of raising tax revenues through expanded gambling in the nation’s capital following the demise of the city’s ‘cercles de jeux’ in recent years.

Duport reported back earlier this month with proposals relating to either casinos or London-style gambling clubs, with the government and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said to favour the former, which would raise an estimated €45.6m ($51.6m) in taxes per year.

However, the government is now backing the gambling clubs, which would offer classic casino games with the exception of slot machines, following opposition from senior politicians to the casino idea.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, a member of the Socialist Party, said the proposal was not her “cup of tea”, while Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, a member of the conservative Les Républicains party, accused the government of pursuing the project “strictly for financial reasons”.

Duport had pointed out that Paris and Rome are the only capital cities in Europe that do not have casinos, since they were banned from operating within 100km of the city in 1917.

Cercle Clichy is the only one of Paris’ notorious cercles de jeux halls that remains open with the others, including the famous Aviation Club de France, having been shut down since 2008 amid suspicions they were being used for money-laundering.

The Interior Ministry confirmed that Cazeneuve was now backing the gambling halls, saying that he wanted to “move forward” with the proposal.

“The new project could be operational by the start of 2016,” said an Interior Ministry spokesman.

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