Liberalising French gambling?

A statement on the French government website www.premier-ministre.gouv.fr/acteurs/gouvernement/conseils_ministres_35/.../jeux_argent_hasard_ligne_63045.html, widely reported in the French media yesterday, delivers further information on French moves to open up that country's gambling markets (see previous InfoPowa reports).

The statement announces the appointment of the French Tennis Federation's secretary general, Jean-Francois Vilotte, to head up a new French online gambling regulatory authority with the rather ponderous title of l’autorité administrative indépendante de régulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL). The body will be responsible for issuing the 5 year online gambling licenses envisaged in the draft legislation opening up the market from January 2010.

The statement also confirms that the proposed legislation to effect the liberalisation of the French market in compliance with European Commission principles has been placed before the French Council of Ministers.

Vilotte is a name known to most online gambling corporate execs due to his involvement in the French Tennis Federation's legal assaults on Internet gambling companies such as Ladbrokes, Betfair, Unibet, Expekt and Bwin last year regarding Internet betting on tennis matches.

Early reaction from the European Gaming and Betting Association, which numbers most of the major European gambling corporates among its members, has not been favourable to the appointment, with the organisation suggesting that the French government justify Vilotte's appointment to a post where an unbiased and independent approach is of significant importance.

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