Thursday, January 05, 2006Contact: Maurits Bruggink
+33.1.56 09 93 40
Paris Court condemns Malta betting website

On 4 January, the Appeal Court of Paris condemned the Malta based betting site for taking bets on French races. The Court ruled that according to French law, the national pool PMU is the only organisation allowed to organise betting on French horseracing. It also ruled that the French law is compatible with European Union law. The appeal judgement confirms the judgement at first instance of July 2005, but increases the penalties for incompliance.

Like most of the European betting websites that want to explore restricted markets, put its hope on European (case) law. In brief, European case law says that national gambling restrictions are only allowed if they aim at restricting gambling and needed to protect public order. I.e., EU law would not allow restrictions that aim to protect state income from gambling.

Most national Courts have interpreted European Case law in a manner that upheld national gambling restrictions, and so did the Paris Court. disagrees and announced it would appeal the ruling and continue its ground procedure. It also refers to the complaint it has filed with the European Commission against the French betting monopoly, which it claims is supported by the Maltese government.

In the mean time, it continues to take bets on French races, arguing that it is only subject to Maltese law. The IFHA has a clear position on such cases. Horseracing is an expensive product to produce and anyone who basis its business model on it will have to pay for this product. A betting operator that does not pay for the racing product undermines racing itself and creates an unfair competitive advantage.

In addition, the IFHA does not believe it is anyone’s right to disrespect the laws of a country. We support the principle that gambling laws, restrictive or not, have to be respected by racing authorities, betting operators, or anyone else for the matter. We refer to article 28 of the IFHA International Agreement on Breeding, Racing and Betting.

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