French Betting Protest
Anger has been simmering in France over issues related to gambling casino for more than a year and Wednesday it came to a boil as more than 2,000 people took to the streets to protest potential changes to the horse racing industry.
The demonstrators were made up of mostly thoroughbred and trotting employees and assembled in Paris in front of the finance ministry building in a peaceful, but dynamic rally. They are fearful proposed alterations could put them out of work.
They were voicing concerns over a plan with betting machines that the government wants to install around the country, as well as drops in revenue that they believe is also the fault of elected officials.
Horse racing is big business in France and has one of the world’s premiere events, the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe, which is run the first Sunday of October and has been in existence since 1920.
It is widely believed that the sport of kings is the best in all of Europe. The industry has been rich in tradition since Joseph Oller, who was also co-founder of the Moulin-Rouge, invented pari-mutual betting in 1891. Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) was created in 1930 and has controlled wagering since, both on and off the track.
The main issue is authorities wanted to install betting devices in more than 100 locations throughout the area in a test program. They had agreed to let Française Des Jeux (FDJ), a state-owned lottery and sports betting company, be the operators.
“We are going through a rough patch but that could lead to the establishment of a full and comprehensive gaming policy in France,” said Olivier Delloye, director general of France Galop.
Fear turned to outrage when it was learned that FDJ had ordered 18,000 units, confident the program would become permanent. The protest to have work for now as the government announced the April venture had been suspended.