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Tour de France Team Banned for Gambling Sponsorship

When the words “Tour de France” and “Legal Controversy” are mentioned together, people usually think about drugs. The famous tournament was stained in the past by athletes using drugs to improve their performance and win the race. However, the prestige bicycle race has managed to save his good name. Now, a new scandal is circling the Tour de France as one of the teams was banned for being sponsored by an online gambling firm that offers sports betting. The race organizers decided to bar the Malta-based Unibet team from participating as a result of the restrictive gaming laws imposed by France. The European Commission decided to take an interest in the legal case and will look into the issue as things might get out of hand.

The internal market commissioner, Charlie McCreevy, already involved the lawyers of the Green Cycle team and the International Cycling Union, but he doesn’t plan to stop there. McCreevy aims at taking the French government to court over its online gambling legislation and restrictions. The claim will address France’s national gambling monopolies and other burning topics in what might be one of the biggest cases of gambling legislation of the year. “Mr McCreevy detects more that a whiff of hypocrisy, given that the biggest backer of the tour is the PMU, the French horseracing monopoly, which encourages bets on the race,” noted one of the newspapers that follows the case.

The European Union’s view regarding online gambling is simple – a country should address local gambling firms the same way it addresses international ones. Many European countries have legislated regulations that favor state-owned gambling firms while banning and restricting international firms from operating. McCreevy already launched a dozen cases against EU members that show biased policies. It does not seem likely that McCreevy will stop until the Unibet team is reinstated in the Tour de France. What is more interesting to learn is will all of this have any repercussions on France’s stand regarding international gambling.

OCA News Editor

Jenny McKinnley is OCA’s financial correspondent. After spending years on the trading floor in both NY and London, she offers insight from the inside out on world financial news and events.

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