February 09, 2010

French casinos seek licence ban on 'illegal’ operators

The Criminal Court in Paris yesterday heard arguments in a case brought by three leading French casino groups, Barrière, Tranchant and Joagroupe, who are seeking a two-year licensing ban on foreign online gaming operators who are currently active in the French market.

The French casino operators filed complaints against at least 14 online gaming operators last year, including the likes of bwin, Unibet and Sportingbet. They accuse them of violating French law by serving French citizens online from overseas jurisdictions.

Emboldened by last year’s European Court of Justice ruling in the bwin / Santa Casa case, which found that a State may prohibit a foreign operator from providing gambling services in certain circumstances, the French operators are confident that the court will rule in their favour.

The casino groups are seeking a symbolic €1 in damages from the online operators, as well as a two year ban on them obtaining a French licence.

The online operators are expected to argue that the French courts have no authority to prohibit an activity protected by European principles of freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services.

The court case is expected to conclude on Thursday February 11th.

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