February 10, 2010

888, Bwin, Sportingbet, Unibet face French legal action

888, Bwin, Sportingbet and Unibet are being sued for “illegal competition” in the French courts for offering casino games such as slots, blackjack or roulette to French internet users.

The casino groups Barrière, which launching an online poker product with monopoly Francaise Des Jeux; Joagroupe, Tranchant and the Casinos de France trade union allege that offering the games is in contravention of current gaming legislation and of the egaming regulation set to come into effect in June, which prohibits licensed operators from offering online casino games to French players.

They also accuse the online operators of 'deliberately violating French legislation on games of chance' by not adhering to the strict parameters for operating casinos in the country, and of “depriving the State of substantial tax revenues, and not upholding the principles of player protection and fighting against problem gambling, fraud and money laundering”.

The casino groups are asking for a symbolic payment of €1m in damages, plus €30,000 to cover their legal costs, and will ask for the publication of the court’s judgement in the main French daily newspapers.

In other French egaming news, tax on fixed odds betting in France could be as much as half a percentage point higher than expected, if proposed amendments to draft gaming laws are approved by French politicians this month, while tax on horse racing could fall by the same amount and a ban on pre-pay cards be dropped.

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