Ladbrokes and PMU deal criticised by Belgian competition watchdog

Ladbrokes and PMU deal criticised by Belgian competition watchdog

The Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) has objected to a horse racing betting distribution agreement between Ladbrokes and Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU).

Particular criticism was levied at the potential for the deal between the UK and French companies to limit the operator’s competition with one another in Belgium, breaching local and EU anti-competitive laws.

Ladbrokes is founded and headquartered in London and is one of the flagship sportsbook brands of the Entain group. The company is also active in Belgium via the Derby and Tiercé Ladbrok sports and racing betting subsidiaries.

Meanwhile, PMU holds the monopoly on pool and retail betting on horse racing in France – where it is classed as an ‘economic interest group’ – and owns Belgian operator Eurotiercé.

Due to each company maintaining a foothold in Belgium, the BCA has assessed that any agreement between the two is a violation of the country’s anti-competitive laws.

Specifically, the agreement would allow Ladbrokes to sell PMU betting products on French horse races to its customers in Belgium. However, the BCA did note that the deal is no longer in force.

The BCA’s statement of objections does not amount to a regulatory enforcement action or commencement of proceedings against either Ladbrokes or PMU, which are free to share counter-views to the authority’s ‘preliminary conclusions’.

This does, however, mark the second time this week that Ladbrokes has faced criticism from a market monitoring body, having been told to remove a tweet featuring social media personality and boxer Jake Paul by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Meanwhile, the PMU faced some regulatory criticism back in April in its home nation of France, as the operator’s AML action plan for 2023 was criticised as ‘insufficient’ by the l’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ).

Wider Belgian market developments saw the country’s sweeping ban on advertising come into force on 1 July, in a move spearheaded by Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne as a means to limit gambling exposure to vulnerable members of society.

SBC News Ladbrokes and PMU deal criticised by Belgian competition watchdog

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