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France Says No to Gambling Executive Arrest

Is the French government pro online casino gambling? A few weeks ago, a high profile online gambling executive (the Chief Executive over at Unibet, if you want to be precise) was arrested in Amsterdam’s airport following the issue of an arrest warrant by a French judge. Apperantly, the arrest was triggered by Fancaise des Jeux, who heads the lottery and the national horseracing board – the same organization who claimed that Unibet was breaching its monopolistic rights. Suddenly, the chargers were ordered to be dropped as the French government didn’t want anything to do with the case.

With the European Union asking countries in Europe to open their online gambling markets for competition, it’s no wonder that the French government doesn’t want to attract attention. Having an executive of a private online gambling group arrested for making the life of the national monopoly harder is exactly what the French should avoid. “It is not a matter between the state and Unibet,” said a spokeswoman for the budget ministry in Paris. The European Commission criticized the arrest and argued that the online gambling group Unibet was operating under the laws of the European Union, hence France can’t legally act against him.

Under new laws issued to battle terrorism, France could have issued the arrest warrant as it did, but that, of course, would be a very cynical political use of the law. High criticism was heard throughout the European Union. When the European Commission decides to take its battle against online gambling monopolies to the next step, it will surely remember this incident. However, it’s important to emphasize that the French government did order the cancelation of the warrant showing that the European Commission’s efforts to make online gambling in Europe more competitive are already bearing fruit.

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.