The antitrust agencies of the European Union (EU) are set to investigate the virtual betting concession of Ladbrokes in Belgium in order to determine whether it has an exclusive right to operate services that can be recognised as a ‘unfair state subsidy.’
The EU investigation, published by Bloomberg, follows on from complaints lodged by two other gaming companies after Ladbrokes was given the right to operate digital betting kiosks in stores from 2014 and 2015 online.
In a statement the EU stated: “The commission has concerns that the authorisation granted to Ladbrokes may have resulted in the betting company enjoying a de facto exclusive right to operate virtual betting in Belgium since 2014, without any remuneration in favour of the Belgian state by Ladbrokes in return.
“The commission has doubts that it complies with EU state aid rules.”
Ladbrokes operates in Belgium through Derby SA, a subsidiary of GVC Holdings, and is the industry leader in the country with some 300 betting agencies.
The regulator added that the right to run the virtual betting kiosks was denied to other operators in 2015 and 2016.
Having recently released its interim results for H1, Ladbrokes has experienced major retail shocks across its European and UK divisions, leading the operator company to re-adjust its full-year EBITDA forecast to £720m-£740 m (depending on more COVID-19 results).