Bwin bosses released on bail, may face jail time in France

Manfred Bodner and Norbert Teufelberger, the joint chief executives of Austrian-based Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG, were release on bail Tuesday, but may face up to three years in jail if they're found guilty of violating gaming laws in France. Bwin owns and operates several gambling sites, including PokerRoom.com and EuroPoker.com.

The two founders of the company were arrested last week as they were preparing to give a press conference in France about the company's sponsorship deal with the Association Sportive de Monaco football club. Their company is now being investigated because of its promotional activities in France, including the deal with Monaco and two other French Clubs.

According to French gambling laws, gaming companies aren't allowed to advertise in the country unless they have a French license, and currently only two French betting monopolies have been awarded licenses in France.

Bodner and Teufelberger were required to post bail of €300,000 each to be released from jail. Bwin was also told by the French magistrate to post a message on its French gaming pages making it clear the service may go against gambling regulations.

No official charges have been filed against Bwin or its co-chief executives yet. The investigation could take as long as a year before it's complete.

The legal action could be a troublesome development for other gaming companies who've also taken up sponsorship deals with soccer teams in France. 888.com, owner of Pacific Poker, signed a two-year sponsor the Toulouse Football Club in August, while Gamebookers, which was recently acquired by PartyGaming, Plc., owner of PartyPoker.com, has a similar deal with the Nantes team.

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