Online casino boss detained by police

Petter Nylander, chief executive of the Swedish online gaming company Unibet, has been detained by Dutch police under a warrant issued by French authorities.

Unibet said Nylander was detained in Amsterdam over allegations that the company breached laws in France that protect French betting monopolies.

Two betting monopolies, Francaise des Jeux (lottery) and PMU (horse-racing) filed a legal challenge against Unibet last year claiming the company operated illegally in the country.

As yet, according to chief financial officer Ragnar Hellenius who will take over as CEO in the interim period, Nylander hasn’t been charged.

The detention of Nylander seems to contradict European law which prevent the protectionism of a gaming monopoly and has provoked a strong reaction from Unibet.

“Unibet is outraged by France's total disregard of European Community law aiming to protect a domestic commercial gambling monopoly, which is being challenged by the European Commission,'' Unibet said in the statement.

It is not the first time that Unibet and France have been involved in a dispute. In this year’s Tour de France, Unibet’s team was banned from competing after race organisers believed its participation would be in breach of French laws that prohibit advertising of foreign gambling companies.

Nevertheless, the timing of the incident seems pretty peculiar considering the highest court in France (Cour de cassation) overturned a decision last July that outlawed Zeturf, a Maltese internet gambling company, from offering odds of French horse-racing.

With that in mind and France’s past behaviour relating to the protectionism of its gaming monopolies, Unibet will be pulling no punches.

Ragnar Hellenius said : “We are upset of this unlawful act and harassment against our company and a citizen of Europe and we will take every action possible to bring this matter to justice. This criminalisation of a specific individual is a tactic that we have seen French authorities using before and something we will not tolerate. We take for granted that Petter Nylander will be released immediately.”

Editor, - 2007-10-23 11:23:05

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