Ladbrokes Leaves France Unibet Enters

Ladbrokes has pulled out of France and cancelled its sports betting enterprise with Canal+ after realising that the country’s tax conditions are way too high and the economy is presently not very investor friendly.

French regulator ARJEL has issued Unibet with the following licenses for sports betting, poker and horseracing, in a statement made on Friday by La Tribune.   The internet casino vendor said that it anticipated going “live” by late 2010 or early 2011.

Gary McIlraith, Ladbrokes managing director of digital channels, international and strategy commented, “In consultation with our associates we came to the conclusion that the tax bracket imposed by the French government is extremely high which forced us to review our initial investment and to retract from the French market.   It is our aim to participate within the French market, but not now when economical conditions are more conducive for us.”

A Ladbrokes spokesman added that the recent confirmation by French authorities that operators would also be required to pay VAT had been the final straw. “Internet gambling services in France are already subject to turnover-based taxes and payments to sport and it was recently confirmed that they would also be subject to VAT charges. Initial market size figures from ARJEL have also been below expectations,” he said.

Ladbrokes’ pulling out of France follows two weeks after French regulator ARJEL made known its findings on the legal market’s performance during the last four months since its inception in June. This indicates a quarter of the size of the international market preceding certain parameters, irrespective of ARJEL’s figures together with assistance from former monopolies PMU and FDJ.

New market entrants Chief executives; Nicolas Beraud of BetClic owner Mangas Gaming, Alex Dreyfus of Chiligaming and Emanuel de Rohan Chabot of ZETurf utilised the previous week French platform for the first ever egaming symposium, Monaco’s iGaming Exchanges, tax rates should be revised, betting duties, the listing procedure and payback circumstances must be investigated.  Beraud is of the opinion at present the French system is not competent enough to land the illicit market onshore and in its publicly stated aim of safeguarding the customer.

Ladbrokes has now joined the likes of Sportingbet and Paddy Power as the list of prestigious online casinos which opted not to enter the market on a B2C basis, with Sportingbet also deciding to call off its B2B agreements with newspapers Le Monde and L’Express.

After Unibet’s press release in May that it was to enter the French Licensing process, resulted in the company’s share price plummeting by 25% the next week.  Chief executive Henrik Tjarnstrom was compelled in August to stare the potential of zero revenues in the face from France in the third-quarter of 2010.



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