The French law on online gambling passed on 12 May 2010 has recently opened up the French market for online gambling, notably in relation to sports betting, circle games and horse race betting.
In so far as online sports betting is concerned, the French Code of Sport provides that:
- operators have to obtain authorisation from the managers of sports events to organise online gambling on such events or contests; and
- the French Competition Authority (the "Authority") has to issue an opinion on each draft contract authorising the organisation of online gambling.
In light of this context and in order to provide concerned operators with the necessary clarifications, the Authority has decided to open an ex-officio investigation at the end of which it will issue a general opinion on potential competition problems arising from the online gambling sector.
This opinion will set out a general legal framework for the sector and will include guidelines for all operators developed in consultation with the French Regulatory Authority for Online Gambling.
The Authority will issue its opinion by the end of the year and will notably deal with the following:
- possible competition restraints in the market access and in particular the issue of contracts to be entered into to obtain the right to organise bets and the conditions under which such a right is remunerated;
- consequences for competition from the subsistence of a monopoly over certain activities (in particular "bricks and mortar" networks) and the difficulties raised by the existence of vertically integrated operators (bet organisers that are also owners of the rights to organise bets);
- pricing policy of operators such as loyalty rebates or rebates for tied sales.
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