Gambling operators facing heat over French Open


French Open organizers are attempting to ban online gambling companies from offering bets on their prestigious tournament.

According to a story with the Canadian Press, the French Open organizers have filed a lawsuit against three of the world's largest betting organizations - Ladbrokes, Bwin and Betfair.

The complaint, which was filed Friday, insists that online betting sites are sullying the reputation of their tournament.

"There is urgency to act because sporting ethic is at risk," said director general of the French tennis federation Jean-Francois Vilotte in a story with the Associated Press. "It is an issue as important as the fight against doping."

The issue of corruption in tennis came to the forefront in August when Betfair voided all wagers on a match in Poland between fifth-ranked Nikolay Davydenko and 87th-ranked Martin Vassallo Arguello because of strange betting patterns. Davydenko withdrew from the match in the third set, citing a suspicious foot injury.

The French federation is suing thee the three companies with a court injunction to stop them from taking bets on the French Open. It also seeks a fine of $75,000 CAD a day for any violations, according to Vilotte's lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont.

Meanwhile the online betting companies are having trouble seeing the logic in going after completely legal operators.

"Targeting the only betting operator which is completely transparent and [which] where needed shares all its betting information with the ITF and ATP would just be plain bizarre," said Betfair managing director Mark Davies to the Canadian Press. "I would be astonished if any sensible regulator wanted to go down this route or believed it could help protect the integrity of its sport when it so obviously does the opposite."

Online gambling has always been somewhat controversial in France. In the past the country has come under fire from the EU for having a state-run monopoly on online gambling but refusing entry to fellow EU operators.

Betfair and Bwin have both stated that attacking legal betting companies will only make things worse for the French Open.

"Targeting EU-licensed companies, which are highly regulated, to leave punters [bettors] betting only with unlicensed operators across the web would completely miss the point," said Davies.

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