Sportingbet May Go It Alone In France


Entry to recently liberalised market delayed.

Speaking to EGR last week, Jim Wilkinson, the finance director of Sportingbet plc, revealed that the group's entry to the French market is again on hold despite its previously announced partnerships with the Le Monde and L'Express newspapers.

Wilkinson said that the business-to-business partnerships with the two French media companies may not bear fruit if the venture cannot turn a fair profit in the newly liberalised but highly taxed and competitive market.

'Our intention at the moment is to go in as a business-to-consumer, we are not looking to partner," Wilkinson told EGR. "At the moment [the two media companies] are waiting with us to see what is happening in the marketplace. At some point, we [must] decide we are not going in, or it's not going to happen for another two years, then it will be up to Le Monde and L'Express to reappraise their position.'

Wilkinson said that Sportingbet's technological compliance with the French regulator ARJEL's requirements will be complete by the end of Q1/2011, but that an application for a licence must hinge on whether operations are commercially viable and can deliver a profit.

'We understand the tax, we think we understand the licence fees; it's a question of what is being passed onto the consumers and what our competitors are taking as losses,' he said.

The EGR interview with Sportingbet follows news last week that Unibet has reservations about the French market on a business-to-consumer level and has not applied for licensing.

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