French UIGEA Against EU Law
By Staff
The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has welcomed a detailed opinion issued by the European Commission’s arguing against moves by France to restrict payments to gaming companies unless they are part of State monopolies Francaise des Jeux and PMU.

The proposals intend to require French financial institutions to block payment orders from online gaming operators listed by French authorities even those that are fully licensed, regulated and based in the European Union.

“Today’s action consolidates the Commission’s position that unjustified payment blocking in our sector clearly contravenes European Union law,” said Sigrid Ligne, General Secretary for EGBA.

“We welcome the Commission’s action and hope that this will send a clear signal to other European Union and European Free Trade Association Member States that such proposals will not be tolerated.”

The French draft decree is the second of two, drafted under the 2007 Delinquency Act, to erect technical barriers protecting the State’s gambling monopolies, which are already the subject of separate European Union infringement proceedings.

The first draft decree in April sought to oblige Internet service providers to discourage consumers from accessing non-French websites but was never adopted following a detailed opinion issued by the European Commission in July.

EGBA stated that the Commission’s decision was a reminder that restrictions on the free movement of capital are not acceptable. Similar restrictions are being considered in Germany, Norway and The Netherlands but are already in place in the United States in the form of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).

“Such restrictions are difficult to implement, easy to circumvent, inefficient and foster the growth of an underground market,” said Ligne.

The Commission could launch infringement proceedings if France does enact the proposed legislation, something it is now barred from doing before the end of the month due to the opinion.

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