Petter Nylander, CEO of Unibet, was detained Monday evening in Amsterdam under a warrant issued under French laws dating back to the 19th century! Mr. Nylander was in route to his home in Britain, where Unibet's operations are based.
The arrest stems from proceedings issued last year against Unibet by Françoise des Jeux, the French lottery monopoly, and the monopoly that governs betting on horses (PMU). They contend that Unibet was in breach of national laws protecting state-owned monopolies passed in 1836 and 1891.
France enjoys a State monopoly in online gambling through the Government owned lottery Françoise Des Jeux and the PMU betting organization. They have justified their monopoly by stating that gambling needs to be regulated and certified, with them being the best able to do so.
Unibet is one of the largest online gambling operators in the European market, offering online gambling products including online poker, online casino, sports betting, lotteries, and bingo. Their customer base spans more than 150 countries, with over 1.3 million customers worldwide. Unibet is a member of the European Betting Association.
While the European Commission renewed its attack on France's outdated gambling laws, contending that French gambling laws were out of line with EU rules, France's European Affairs Minister was of another opinion. Jean-Pierre Jouyet insisted the move was "perfectly consistent with the internal market" as no internal market for gambling existed.
The Amsterdam's prosecutor's office will seek to extend Mr. Nylander's detention, although a Commission source said, "Instructions were given to drop the proceedings." Mr. Nylander is slated for an appearance before a judge in a closed hearing tomorrow.
This isn't the first time Unibet has been in conflict with France and its gambling laws. Unibet's cycling team, which displays the firm's logo on its shirts, was banned from this year's Tour de France.