The European Union (EU) antitrust agencies are set to carry out an investigation into Ladbrokes’ virtual betting concession in Belgium to ascertain whether it holds an exclusive right to operate services that can be recognised as an ‘unfair state subsidy’.
Reported by Bloomberg, the EU probe follows on from complaints submitted by two other gaming operators after Ladbrokes was granted the rights to operate digital betting kiosks in stores from 2014 and online from 2015.
“The commission has concerns that the authorization granted to Ladbrokes may have resulted in the betting company enjoying a de facto exclusive right to operate virtual betting in Belgium since 2014, without any remuneration in favor of the Belgian state by Ladbrokes in return,” the EU said in a statement.
“The commission has doubts that it complies with EU state aid rules.”
Ladbrokes is operated in Belgium by Derby SA, a subsidiary of GVC Holdings, and is the market leader with some 300 betting agencies in the country.
The regulator added that other operators were denied the right to operate virtual betting kiosks in 2015 and 2016.
Having recently published its interim results for H1, Ladbrokes absorbed significant retail shocks across both its European and UK units which led to the operator group readjusting its full-year EBITDA outlook to £720m-£740m range (dependent on further COVID-19 outcomes).