The Swedish head of online betting firm Unibet on Thursday called for an end to the French state’s gaming monopoly, attacking the laws under which he is being investigated for illegal activities as „obsolete.“
Petter Nylander is currently on bail after being arrested in the Netherlands last month in a case that has been criticised by the European Commission, which is in favour of greater competition in the sports betting market.
Speaking in London where he lives, the 43-year-old Swede said the case against him and Unibet was harassment and indicative of anti-competitive protectionism on the part of France’s state-owned lottery firms.
„The laws that are used against me in France are from 1836 and 1891 … before the European Union was created, before the Internet was created,“ he told a news conference. „Those national laws are obsolete.
„In the last 20 years, we’ve seen several European monopolies being transformed from strict tough state monopolies to open competition.
„You can take the airline industry, the broadcast industry, telecom sector, to the benefit of the European consumers. This is just another monopoly going down, painfully.
„However, I’m not aware of a monopoly going down throwing competitors into prison. We need to stop this harrassment of companies.
„We need to create a modern form of a gaming industry, to find a way for responsible companies like Unibet and others to work and be non discriminated compared to state companies in Europe.“
Nylander was arrested in Amsterdam last week on the grounds that he had not responded to a summons issued in April by a court in Nanterre, north of Paris.
Legal proceedings were instigated after France’s lottery firms lodged a formal complaint that Unibet was in breach of state laws protecting their monopoly.
He said he was not aware of the warrant as he had been travelling in Europe and insisted French law did not apply to Unibet.
„We have no office in France, people use the Internet. How can it be illegal?“ he said.
French monopoly laws date from the 19th century and protect French lottery operator Francaise des Jeux and horse-racing betting group PMU.
Unibet is registered in Malta, operated out of Britain and listed on the Stockholm stock exchange. It claims to have 1.8 million customers in 150 countries.
In French law, being placed under judicial investigation is one step short of being formally charged and does not necessarily mean Nylander is heading for trial.