|Malta-based online casinos Unibet.com and Expekt.com have been banned by a court in France from offering bets in the nation on matches at the Roland-Garros tennis championships taking place in Paris this week.|
The sites were also ordered to pay just over $1.24 million in damages and interest to the nation’s tennis federation, which owns the rights to the French Open, although both firms stated that they would be appealing the decision.
In two distinct rulings, the court in Paris ruled that the sites had ‘violated the operating monopoly conferred on the French tennis federation, the organisers of the tournament’. The case surrounds a French law that prohibits wagering on sporting events that are not organised by the nation’s national lottery operator, Francaise Des Jeux and the court ordered Expekt.com $466,221 in damages and interest while Unibet.com was fined $777,087.
“This is the first decision that is so clear on the exclusive rights of exploitation,” said Fabienne Fajgenbaum, the lawyer for the French tennis federation.
The federation launched a similar action in the Belgian city of Liege that was dismissed in April with the European Gaming and Betting Association announcing that this decision demonstrated ‘the contradictions between different European courts’.
'We regret that a French judge has prevented French Internet users from placing bets on their favourite tennis tournament while Belgians can continue to enjoy this form of increasingly popular entertainment,' read a statement from the Association.