French gambling amendments will not please Betfair

Betfair unlikely to be pleased with latest news from France

The French draft law to liberalise the gambling industry in that country is currently being debated by the National Assembly , but news of late amendments to the draft is unlikely to please online betting exchange giant Betfair.

The surprise amendment to the new gambling laws effectively bans betting exchanges, reports The Guardian newspaper in the UK, and this could have implications for other countries like Britain, where sporting bodies are known to be hostile to the betting exchange concept and may lobby for similar legislation.

Sports administrators, including the England and Wales Cricket Board's chief executive, David Collier, and his counterpart at the British Horseracing Authority, Nic Coward, last month met the sports minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, to advance their case.

Betfair, which has over 2 million punters on its books, has described the amendment as 'discriminatory.'

France's new law draft apparently requires not only that operators be licensed, but that the successful companies also agree to pay almost 2 percent of revenues to the improvement of anti-corruption measures in sport. Operators will also be expected to negotiate separate licences with each sport they want to offer bets on.

Online betting exchanges will not be able to apply for one of the new licences after it was ruled that allowing punters to lay bets contradicted this principle.

Passing the amendment, the French parliament referred to a British report that 9.8 percent of punters using betting exchanges developed gambling addictions, compared to a rate of between one and three percent among the general gambling population.

Betfair's managing director, Mark Davies, told The Guardian: "We will consider our position. It is fairly clearly discriminatory against the biggest and most competitive online operator in Europe. It is a slap in the face for the consumer."

The company also disputes the figures in the report, which it said were based on such a small sample that they were close to meaningless.

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