Eye on Europe - March 12, 2007

13 March 2007

Tjeerd's Winnings Streak -- The mainstream media are reporting that the European Lotteries are the losers in the Placanica case, and I have seen only positive reactions from the "Free Willies" of the gambling industry. Nevertheless, Tjeerd Veenstra, the legal spokesman of the European Lotteries, says he's elated with the verdict. Veenstra, a graduated psychologist and the chair legal affairs for the European Lotteries, has a winning streak in Dutch court cases. Never underestimate him.

Where Have all the Web Sites Gone? -- According to the Dutch Ministry of Justice, there were 352 illegal betting sites in The Netherlands in February 2006, but after a warning from the Ministry of Justice, 132 companies and persons have stopped their online activities. Sixty percent of the owners of the sites quitted after the first warning. Offering games of chance via the Internet is, according to the Ministry of Justice, a criminal act.

Double Dutch -- Betfair last week reported an exceptionally high amount of betting on a match between FC Groningen and NAC in the Dutch Ere-Divisie (the highest professional soccer league in the Netherlands). The Dutch soccer association has subsequently asked the police authorities to investigate possible match fixing. The match was won 3-1 by the home-team; The lay-in was 1.1 million euros--20 times the normal amount for such a match. The Dutch toto operator could not find any irregularities.

Double Boycott -- When you work from Turkey (as I do), not only can you not enter Unibet's Web site, you cannot even access the unibetcycling.com site, where the company posts information on the Unibet Cycling Team. . . . The company is also being boycotted in France, where its jerseys are not being allowed. The president of the Commercial Court of Nanterre last week dismissed, in summary proceedings, the request from the ProTour cycling team Green Cycle Associates AB (Unibetcycling) to participate in the Paris-Nice race. At stake is the cycling team's right to freely exercise its sporting business. Until now, it would have been unthinkable that the US Postal team would not be entitled to race in Germany because it doesn't have a German postal license. It would have been unthinkable for Deutsche Telekom to not be been entitled to race in France because it is not licensed as a French telecoms operator. The public prosecutor indeed decided to intervene in the court hearing of March 8, and his argumentation denied the riders the right to participate--even in neutral jerseys. PMU (Pari Mutuel Urbain) is the main sponsor of the most important cycling races in France, including the Tour de France. In the past, professional cycling teams have been sponsored by Lotto (Belgium's national lottery), La Fran├žaise des Jeux (French National Lottery), ONCE (Spain) and the Bankgiroloterij, (The Netherlands). Back then, advertising for cross-border gambling advertising was not an issue.

Rob van der Gaast has a background in sports journalism. He worked for over seven years as the head of sports for Dutch National Radio and has developed new concepts for the TV and the gambling industry. Now he operates from Istanbul as an independent gambling research analyst. He specializes in European gambling matters and in privatizations of gambling operators. Rob has contributed to IGN since Jul 09, 2001.