The European Gaming and Betting Association-EGBA-is questioning the compatibility of proposed French online gaming legislation with existing European Union law and European Court of Justice rulings.
Specifically, the five questions being asked are:
• Can the reform and the opening of online sports betting be called consistent, when sports betting in the offline environment will remain under the monopoly of lottery operator FDJ and parimutuel operator PMU?
• Is “French tradition” an acceptable justification to limit the opening of horse betting only to pools betting, when fixed-odds betting is offered for all other types of sports and is very much appreciated by French and European consumers?
• Is a ceiling on the payout ratio, set at the same level as those currently being used by historical operators, compatible with E.U. law? Given that such a ceiling has no known impact on consumer protection, what other objectives than protection of the French market and the position of historical operators can it possibly serve?
• Will the French online gaming authority, in compliance with the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice, take into account the warranties and controls already offered by other E.U. licensing jurisdictions, such as the U.K., Malta or Gibraltar, to avoid the application of dual licensing and purely administrative restrictions in the single market?
• Is the creation of a “sports betting right,” granted to the French sport federations in the context of commercial agreements with sports betting operators in France, a credible means to prevent match fixing? The majority of stakeholders have already developed partnerships and successful early warning systems to anticipate and prevent those risks.
The EGBA says it is “particularly concerned” about the potential creation of a “local” internet market, given the French authorities’ “clear intention to adopt payment and ISP blockings” and continued criminal enforcement even in the case of established E.U. online gaming and betting operators. The group calls such a move “completely incompatible with the European dimension and the cross-border nature of this leading internet sector.”