The European Commission, the executive body of the European Union’s government, has issued a detailed opinion which will temporarily block France from enforcing a provision in their 2007 Delinquency Act that is similar to the U.S Unlawful Internet Gambling and Enforcement Act. France’s decree is similar to the UIGEA in that it seeks to prevent banks and other financial institutions from transferring money into online gambling sites. The Delinquency Act also includes a decree whose intent is to protect French gambling monopolies.
The detailed opinion issued by the European Commission will block France from enforcing their decree until March 31, 2008. After that date France may enforce their decree; however, if they do the European Commission will likely take legal action against France for their pro-monopoly stance.
The European Gambling & Betting Association was quick to praise this latest action by the European Commission. Secretary General Sigrid LignÃ© of the EGBA said, “Today’s action consolidates the Commission’s position that unjustified payment blocking in our sector clearly contravenes EU law. We welcome the Commission’s action and hope that this will send a clear signal to other EU and EFTA Member States that such proposals will not be tolerated.”
This action comes at a time when many EU countries have been attempting to create similar laws, while the European Commission has been opposing all such action. Speaking about the laws and the restrictions they try to enforce, LignÃ© said, “Such restrictions are difficult to implement, easy to circumvent, inefficient, and foster the growth of an undergound market.”
This continues the legal saga of the European Commission attempts to keep the online gambling market free from restrictions that inhibit foreign competition while promoting domestic gambling companies.