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Belgian competition body flags concerns over Ladbrokes-PMU deal

| By Marese O'Hagan
The Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) has raised concerns over a recent deal struck between Entain-owned Ladbrokes and French horseracing operator Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU).

The concerns were voiced in a statement of objections addressed to both companies. In it, BCA said that the deal could have “unduly restricted” competition between Ladbrokes and PMU in the market.

BCA said its investigation and prosecution service had contacted Ladbrokes and PMU regarding the deal. This was set to allow Ladbrokes to offer PMU’s horse-racing products to the Belgian market.

BCA also said that the agreements set out in the deal were no longer in force.

The service communicated that Ladbrokes and PMU’s agreement may be in breach of Belgium’s competition rules. Specifically, the breach may be to article IV.1 of the Code of Economic Law and Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The statement of objections does not amount to enforcement action. BCA said that both Ladbrokes and PMU can share their views on the matter.

Enforcement action

Ladbrokes was the subject of enforcement action just yesterday (5 July), when the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that the operator had breached its advertising code.

The complaint centred around a tweet that featured influencer and boxer Jake Paul, which the ASA argued could be interpreted as appealing to under-18s. Although Ladbrokes initially defended the tweet, the complaint was ultimately upheld by the ASA.

Earlier today (6 July), Entain pulled out of a deal to acquire Slovenian sports betting monopoly Športna Loterija, alongside Superbet. It was reported in local media that bidders were offering an estimated €50m for 100% of Športna Loterija’s shares.

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