Toulouse FC Protest Ban on Gambling Advertising

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Toulouse Football Club, which plays in the French Ligue 1 competition, wore “???.com, censored” on their playing shirts on Sunday in protest at the French Professional Football League decision to ban clubs from online gambling advertising.

Toulouse FC is sponsored by online gambling giant 888.com and had been wearing 888.com advertising on their playing shirts and on billboards around their stadium. But the French Professional Football League (LFP) handed down a decision on Friday banning their clubs from advertising online gambling companies.

It is assumed that the LFP decision was made as a consequence of the arrest of two BWIN executives in Monaco. The Casino Tropez executives were arrested by French police for advertising their online gambling services in France (Austrian-owned BWIN had recently signed a sponsorship deal with another Ligue 1 team, Monaco FC).

Monaco FC were forced to remove advertising boards for BWIN before the kickoff of their match against Le Mans on Saturday. A Monaco FC representative stated: “Monaco insist on the fact that the decision to remove all advertising for bwin was imposed by the LFP as a condition for the match to start.”

Gambling is a state monopoly in France, and it’s believed the BWIN arrests were at the bidding of the state-sponsored lottery company.

Not long after the arrests, the European Commission announced they may expand their study into state-sponsored gambling monopolies. The European Commission would like to see individual member states to provide open access for all European online gambling agencies or, alternatively, no access, if they believe online gambling is detrimental to their citizens.

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