19 September 2006

French curbs on gambling face challenge

(Financial Times)
France is likely to face a legal challenge from the European Commission over its restrictions on gambling operators. The threat was made following the arrest in France of two senior executives of Bwin, an Austrian online sports betting operator. The French authorities claim Bwin has violated French gaming law, which bans private sports betting businesses from operating in the country. Under EU law, governments have the right to place restrictions on gambling and sports betting operators, but they must be "non-discriminatory, proportionate and consistent". Mr McCreevy's spokesman said: "It is not acceptable to limit the freedom to provide betting services on account of protecting consumers and at the same time allow monopoly holders to advertise betting services."