|The Managing Director for Liverpool-based Stanleybet International has called on European Commissioner Charlie McCreevy to reject France's opening offer to liberalise its pools-betting market while keeping its fixed-odds market closed.|
According to the Reuters news agency, John Whittaker, whose company instigated two key European Court of Justice decisions that are slowly chipping away at national betting restrictions, stated that the offer was inadequate. In one of the rulings, the European Court of Justice said that a betting business legally established in one European Union state could offer its services elsewhere in the bloc with restrictions only for reasons of general public interest.
France and the European Commission are currently exploring ways forward on the issue with French ministers hinting that they could open up the pools-betting market served by the PMU monopoly while leaving the fixed-odds betting market served by Francaise Des Jeux alone.
'I don't believe for a minute Commissioner McCreevy will accept such a situation whereby 'we give up that if you leave us alone',' said Whittaker, whose firm operates the UK fixed-odds betting firm Stanleybet.
'If McCreevy did that, it would be like throwing out the baby with the bathwater.'
France says protections are needed to stop money laundering and addiction and that privately run fixed-odds betting could be vulnerable to corruption.
The European Commission currently has legal warnings of European Court of Justice litigation against ten nations including Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Sweden and The Netherlands.