The Guardian is reporting today that online gambling group PartyGaming has closed its French website, without notifying investors. One shareholder has offloaded around £50m of stock in the firm.
Meanwhile, John Anderson, the former chief executive of 888 Holdings, has been summoned for interview by the French authorities, prompting speculation that French authorities are about to crackdown on online gambling.
This in itself is prompting speculation that the French and American governments actually agree on something.
After the US clampdown on internet gambling last October, the last thing PartyGaming and other gambling groups need is yet more uncertainty over the legality of their operations.
While current legal opinion says that online gambling is legal in the EU, our Gallic friends have been lobbying against this.
It is probably no coincidence that the French government controls two related gambling monopolies - PMU for betting and Francaise de Jeux for gaming. The success of online gambling constitutes a threat to these operations.
888 has marketed itself aggressively in France, including a short-lived shirt sponsorship deal with Toulouse FC. This was before French football authorities banned online gambling firms from such marketing.
It is believed that the French authorities’ request to question 888’s John Anderson has something to do with this sponsorship deal.