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France's Kentucky Situation

February 11, 2010 (CAP Newswire) – As reported in CAP’s international online gambling update, France has made headlines in the online gambling world because of a legal complaint filed by a group of French casinos against large international gaming companies that include Bwin, Sportingbet and Unibet.

The lawsuit alleges that Bwin and the other foreign operators are violating French gaming law, both the current laws and the French soon-to-be-implemented gambling laws to be implemented in June. Therefore, the French casinos, a trade union that includes Barrière, Joagroupe, Tranchant and Casinos de France, are seeking a payment of €30,000, but it’s believed that the intent is to drive non-French competition out of the French market before the new gambling laws come into effect.

But lawyers for Bwin, Sportingbet and Unibet aren’t buying it, claiming that the French legal system has no authority over them. “Olivier Gutkes, acting for Bwin, said the use of the French language as one of the 22 languages available on the Bwin site ‘did not give the French judge the competence’ to judge the complaint brought against his client, which operates from Gibraltar,” reports eGaming Review. Read that article here.

The action puts France in an awkward comparison to Kentucky, which has, for more than a year, been trying to seize 141 online gambling website domain names on the grounds that they are violating Kentucky law by offering gambling services to its citizens. That action has been widely criticized on the grounds that the state is surpassing its authority; it’s likely that the French situation will come to a similar conclusion.