French court challenges state gaming monopoly

11th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 11, 2007 (AFP) - France's highest appeals court has challenged the country's sports betting monopoly, arguing that such an arrangement can only be justified if it is part of a crime prevention initiative, court sources said Wednesday.

PARIS, July 11, 2007 (AFP) - France's highest appeals court has challenged the country's sports betting monopoly, arguing that such an arrangement can only be justified if it is part of a crime prevention initiative, court sources said Wednesday.

The ruling Tuesday from the Cour de Cassation followed a warning late last month from the European Commission that it would take legal action against Paris if it failed to satisfy Commission concerns about restrictions on sports betting in France.

The French appeals court had been reviewing sanctions imposed on Zeturf, a Maltese company providing online betting on horse races, that had been sought by Paris Mutuel Urbain (PMU), which holds a monopoly on off-track betting in France.

The court found that in accordance with European Union legal practice restrictions on the sports betting services can only be justified if they are deemed necessary to prevent such activities from being abused for criminal purposes.

It added the anti-crime argument can only be used if the state implements prevention measures in the area of sports betting "in a coherent and systematic fashion."

The European Commission has threatened both France and Sweden with legal action before the European Union's highest court in connection with their restrictions on sports betting.

The European Union's executive arm gave Paris and Stockholm two months to answer its concerns about measures that discourage service providers from other EU companies from breaking into their markets.

"The Commission considers that the restrictions in question are not compatible with existing EU law and that the measures taken by these member states to restrict the free movement of sports betting services have not been shown to be necessary, proportionate and non-discriminatory," it said.

Although the European Commission is not seeking to liberalise the sports gambling market, it has recently been leading an offensive against state monopolies in the sector, which it says keep out newcomers.


Copyright AFP

SUbject: French news

0 Comments To This Article