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PMU comes under

competition scrutiny


t is not only overseas operators who are seeking to challenge the monopoly status of the PMU and Française des Jeux in the new French betting and gaming market. According to reports in the country’s media, the monopolies are now due to be the subject of an investigation by the French

Competition Authority. In an article in La

Tribune at the beginning of September, it was explained that the newly created gaming authority Arjel has four specific tasks: to combat money laundering, to ensure that both operators and sporting bodies are untouched by corruption of any sort, to fight against problem gambling and to ensure French sport is protected, but it does not control how the market works, this being the role of the

Competition Authority. According to comments released in the media, the authority intends to go through the position of the PMU ‘with a fine tooth comb’ and will look to unearth any possible ‘distortions of the market’. For La Tribune these specifically include any advantage that the PMU, and indeed FdJ, could gain for their online business from their presence in thousands of

tobacconists and bars throughout the country. Newly licensed operators have already complained

that the presence of outlets countrywide provides an extra source of promotion for the PMU and FdJ, with which they have no means of competing.

It also appears that the Competition Authority has decided to act without waiting for any complaint, perhaps as the body is all too well aware that the monopoly position of the two companies is already the subject of legal action by operators Stanleybet and ZEturf.

In a comment published in the French press, the regulator indicated that it will, before the end of the year, ‘provide an opinion that presents a general framework and provides all of those involved with guidelines designed to provide assistance with the formulation of their actions, in accordance with the newly created gaming regulator (Arjel)’. It will look at, for example, the implications of the existence of monopolies, and of organisations that both organise events and take bets on them, a reference to the catch-all nature of the PMU with regard to French racing. With the existing legal challenges destined to be resolved by the ECJ rather than French courts, the government is perhaps keen to get its house in order on its own terms before it is forced to act by the European Commission.

BHA unveils full on fixtu

Despite all the threats of a cull in race meetings, the BHA has finally announced next year’s fixture list - with a drop of just 23 meetings.


fter a delay of two months, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA)

has unveiled next year’s fixture list with the news that there are only 23 fewer meetings than this year’s calendar.

In August, the BHA had warned that up to 250 meet- ings were at risk of being chopped due to the reduc- tion in funding through the Levy, but at the end of the day it was only necessary to reduce the fixture list by 1.5 per cent.


The most exciting part of the announcement, however, was the launch of a new fixture intended to show off the very best that the sport has to offer. At the behest of the Racing for Change initiative, racing’s stakeholders have come

together to create the major new day, which will be hosted at Ascot on 15 October 2011. British Champions’ Day will feature the Champion Stakes, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Diadem Stakes, Jockey Club Cup and Pride Stakes, as well as a high profile Handicap.

Nic Coward of the BHA commented: “In creating the fixture list, we have had to look hard at the interests of racecourses and their impor- tance to local communities, and the present Levy returns, which have been forced down by betting operators exploiting every available loophole. At the same time, we have confidence that in the coming months racing will see a Scheme to apply from April 2011 that will deliver the right return so that courses and horsemen

can see a sustainable future. “Racing is losing out on money it currently should be getting through the exist- ing Levy Scheme. These fail- ings must be addressed if we are to be able to provide our key customers - racego- ers and punters - with the product we believe they deserve, and ensure racing’s people achieve a fair return for all that goes into putting the show on the road.” Patrick Nixon of the Asso- ciation of British Bookmak- ers is pleased that the racing industry managed to dig deep into their own coffers to maintain the fixture list rather than resort to the bookmakers. He said: “The ABB view is that we welcome the fact that racing has been able to structure a fixture list for 2011 which shows such a modest reduc- tion and still leaves us well

ahead of where we were in 2009. We also welcome the willingness shown by the racecourses to increase their contributions to prize money, thus ensuring that the reduction in fixtures has been kept to a minimum and reflecting a more commer- cial approach to the whole process.” However, there has been some encouragement from the betting sector over the new British Champions Series, which looks to raise the profile of the sport by giving it a ‘cup final’ style end to the flat season. Wilf Walsh, non-executive director at Gala Coral Group and one of the members of the Racing for Change team, commented: “British flat racing needs a clear struc- ture and a world class finale worthy of the sport and the BCS provides the ideal tem-

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