EC Investigates Ladbrokes’ Belgian Virtual Sports Rights

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The European Commission (EC) has initiated a probe about into GVC Holdings’ Ladbrokes winning the exclusive rights to operate virtual sports in Belgium in 2014 and 2015. The Belgian Gaming Commission had given the rights to Ladbrokes while rejecting the requests from other licensees.

Two gaming operators filed a complaint regarding this in March 2019.

Ladbrokes runs 300 betting shops across Belgium through the GVC subsidiary Darby. It has also been offering virtual sports in its retail estate since February 2014 and on the internet since March 2015.

The bone of contention here is the fact that there were no regulatory framework established in Belgium for virtual games in 2014 and 2015. The Belgium Gambling Commission had rejected requests from other licensed operators for operating virtual games, while allowing Ladbrokes to offer its virtual games.

A proper regulatory framework for virtual gaming was established in Belgium only in 2017.

The complainants say that this amounted to granting of an exclusive right to a single player, without any financial returns to the government.

“The measure may have distorted competition and the Commission has doubts that it complies with EU State aid rules,” the EC said. “The Commission will now investigate further to determine whether its initial concerns are confirmed.”

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