FCA Concerned Casino Monopolies France

The French Competition Authority (FCA) aired its reservations about possible privileges afforded to ex- monopolies since the opening of the French regulated internet casino market.

This comes in reply to matters delineated by the European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA) in 2010 and the FCA has concluded that steps need be taken “to prevent any competitive deformation linking previous monopolies.”

It took cognisance that Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU) and La Francaise des Jeux (FDJ) still generated substantial cash because of their previous monopoly status on the land-based side of casino vendors, but recommended a parting of these operators’ physical sales points and their needs.

After the French internet betting market opened to competition in May 2010, ARJEL issued 19 licences to various operators permitting them (counting in previous monopolies) to offer sports betting, betting on horse racing, or both. Nevertheless FDJ and PMU still maintain strong ties in the world of retail sports betting, in this area they were the monopoly operators for sports betting and horse racing correspondingly.

In addition to the above, the competition authority is alarmed that both these ex monopolies have gained unjust benefits by means of their pre-regulation player bases to augment their internet base in the regulated era.

It said: “The accessibility of PMU and FDJ’s offline points of sale, under special circumstances, to expand their internet activities that are subject to competition may well lead to a distortion at the cost of alternative internet casinos that don’t have such opportunity”

“Legal and operational separation of performance carried out by means of a monopoly (offline) and those areas subject to competition (internet gambling)…comprise one of the remedies generally advocated by antitrust authorities to evade exploitative cross subsidization. Accounting partition as compulsory by article 25 of the law of 12 May 2010 does not wholly react to react to prevent this risk,” it concluded.

The question asked is whether costly betting licenses would avert certain new internet casinos from entering the market; strictly speaking this would give former monopolies an unjust advantage already in place.

It has been recommended that internet casino gaming regulator ARJEL should impose certain clauses to remedy the terms of agreements between internet casinos and organisers of sporting events, in an effort to stop the volatility of fees dissuading new internet casinos from participating within the regulated French market.

In spite of all this, the competition authority acknowledged that “Real competition seems to be budding between sports betting operators and internet casinos.”

While not compulsory, the agreement is expected to aid online casinos to challenge the current officially authorized framework. ARJEL will most certainly take into account any considerations of whether the status quo must stay.

One of the operators licensed by ARJEL, BetClic Everest for sports betting and betting on horse racing, welcomed the decision and proposed the introduction of legislation to facilitate competition within the French market.



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