Two websites fined and banned over Roland-Garros betting
The two sites are to pay EUR 800,000 in damages and interest to the French tennis federation for accepting online bets on matches.2 June 2008
PARIS - Two Internet sites were banned Friday by a French court from taking online bets in France on matches at the ongoing Roland-Garros tennis championship in Paris.
Unibet and Expekt, both based in Malta, were also ordered to pay EUR 800,000 in damages and interest to the French tennis federation, which owns the rights to the much-watched sporting classic.
Both firms intend to appeal the ruling, they said in a statement issued by the European Gaming and Betting Association.
In two distinct rulings, the court ruled that both sites "violated the operating monopoly conferred on the French tennis federation, the organisers of the tournament".
It ordered Expekt to pay EUR 300,000 in damages and interest, and Unibet EUR 500,000.
Welcoming the decision, French tennis federation lawyer Fabienne Fajgenbaum said "this is the first decision that is so clear on the exclusive rights of exploitation" of the Roland-Garros event.
The case hinged on a French law that prohibits betting on sporting events which are not organized by the French national lottery operator, Francaise des Jeux.
The French tennis federation launched a similar action in the Belgian city of Liege, which was dismissed in April.
The EGBA said Friday's judgement in Paris merely demonstrated "the contradictions between different European courts."
"We regret that a French judge has prevented French Internet users from placing bets on their favourite tennis tournament, whilst Belgians can continue to enjoy this form of increasingly popular entertainment," it said.
The EGBA went on to note that Francaise des Jeux is currently in the sights of the European Commission over the legal status of its monopoly.
[AFP / Expatica]