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The French position. European Legal Update, October 5th 2006 Thibault Verbiest Attorney at law ULYS law firm. The French position. The French regulatory situation The Bwin Case Where from here?. The French position. I. The French regulatory situation

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the french position

The French position

European Legal Update, October 5th 2006

Thibault Verbiest

Attorney at law

ULYS law firm

the french position1
The French position
  • The French regulatory situation
  • The Bwin Case
  • Where from here?
the french position2
The French position

I. The French regulatory situation

  • Lotteries: principle of prohibition (1836 Act)
  • Exceptions

1) FDJ→ Ministry of Finance: monopoly also online Lotteries

  • Sports betting (except horse betting → PMU)

2) Casinos→ Interior Ministry “Courses et Jeux”: only offline (1983 Games of Chance Act) ► discrimination

the french position3
The French position
  • The French regulatory situation
  • Complaint to Commission by casino syndicate
  • “Extension of FDJ’s dominant position to internet = abuse of dominant position”
  • DG Comp currently examining: decision April 2007
  • National proceedings seeking annulment of FDJ monopoly: decision not before up to two years (ECJ prelim. ruling)
the french position4
The French position

I. The French regulatory situation

  • No prosecution against online casinos
  • No threat to monopoly
  • Principle of restrictive interpretation of criminal law
  • European law (Gambelli);
  • Difficulty to prosecute operators established abroad.
  • Prosecution against EU bookmakers: infringe monopoly
the french position5
The French position

II. The Bwin “case”

  • Online bookmaker licenced in Gibraltar
  • Benefits from article 49 EC Treaty
  • Complaint by FDJ to the “Juge d’instruction” : super cop with investigative and judicial competences : decides whether sufficient charges to defer matter to courts
  • Sponsorship agreement with Monaco FC still carried out despite complaint
the french position6
The French position

II. The Bwin “case”

  • Juge d’instruction delivered order to bring execs by force in front of him
  • Person can be held for max 24 hours by the police before first hearing by the judge
  • At the end of the hearing judge can decide
  • to put the person under scrutiny (“mise en examen”): Bwin
  • And/or to put it under judicial control: conditions to be respected (Bwin)
the french position7
The French position

II. The Bwin “case”

  • Charges: “unlawful games of chance, unlawful lotteries, advertising of a prohibited lottery, unlawful horse betting”
  • Surprising seen that games of chance come under the 1983 Act (casino style games, not lotteries or sports betting)
  • Finance minister has announced toughening of sanctions against advertisers: could rise up to 5 times amount of investments against 4500 today
the french position8
The French position

III. Where from here?

  • Gaming battle between France and Europe: infringement action to be decided October 12th by Commission
  • Possible consequences
  • Delay until April: French presidential elections
  • Infringement proceedings : freezing of ongoing actions + deterrent on government to block gambling sites
  • Mid term market opening
  • Climate unsettled at the moment