The French gambling authorities appear to have provoked land gambling group Stanleybet into legal action, judging by a recent statement from the betting company.
With moves now well advanced to liberalise the French gambling market, especially in the online sector, corporates are already jockeying for position in a potentially luctrative market, many in partnership with existing French companies.
Stanleybet is apparently considering legal action after its June 2009 application for a sports betting licence was allegedly ignored.
The Liverpool-based operator claims that the proposed changes to French gambling law ‘disregard’ the single market principles of the European Union, because ‘bricks and mortar operators are prevented from entering the market’.
Stanleybet's chief executive officer, John Whittaker, says: “The French state’s desire to push forward its online gaming bill has left us with no option but to challenge these plans before the Council Of State.
“It is a myth that the French market is set to open as the majority of betting will remain firmly and monopolistically in the hands of Francaise Des Jeux and Pari Mutuel Urbain with only online betting, which represents approximately three percent of the value of the total market, being freed up.
“European Union law is designed to give the consumer choice and we challenge France to open its market truly and give the French consumers the choice that they deserve and to which they are legally entitled.”
StanleyBet's cross-border business model has been endorsed by the European Courts Of Justice in both the Gambelli and Placanica rulings, which resulted in the opening up of the gaming markets of Italy and Denmark, company officials said.
“We have no doubt that, like the Italian courts, the French legal system is respectful of the rule of law and we are fully confident that the Council Of State will deal with our claims in earnest and impartially and do what is right,” said Whittaker.
The draft French law is currently moving through an approval process. Last week the draft bill passed through the French Senate on a first reading with a positive vote of 181 to 140.
March 30 will be the next milestone for the law, when it returns to the National Assembly for a second reading. Thereafter, assuming it successfully passes, it will be referred to the European Union, the French Supreme Court and the French Constitutional Council before being signed into law by the President.
French lawmakers plan to have the law in place by June 1st in order to take advantage of an anticipated betting bonanza around the football World Cup in South Africa later that month.
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