Belgium: Competition Council conducts dawn raid at the National Lottery

Belgian media reported today that the Belgian competition authority conducted surprise inspections at the offices of the National Lottery. The raids began on Tuesday (23 July 2013), and were conducted by Belgium’s Competition Council supported by a number of ICT experts from the Public Service of Economy. The Competition Council is investigating whether the National Lottery may have abused its market position.

Particularly, the investigation relates to “Scooore”, a football betting product of the National Lottery sold in newspaper shops. According to officials of the Competition Council, it is investigated whether the agreements between the National Lottery and the newspaper shops contain unlawful exclusivity clauses. The Council is also investigating whether the National Lottery abuses its dominant position on the Belgian gambling market by using profits made through its monopoly on lotteries (including scratch card games) to cross-subsidize its sports betting services.

Belgian (and EU) competition law prohibits companies, including companies in the gambling sector, from entering into anti-competitive agreements. It also prohibits abusive behavior by undertakings in a dominant position on the market. The Belgian competition authority can impose fines for a breach of competition law of up to 10% of a company’s Belgian turnover.

The timing of the investigations by the Competition Council coincides with the start of Belgium’s official football competition on Friday 26 July 2013.

As from the moment new developments are announced, we will post them on this blog.

Should you have any further questions regarding the above, please contact Bertold Bär-Bouyssière (bertold.bar-bouyssiere@dlapiper.com) or Patrick Van Eecke (patrick.vaneecke@dlapiper.com).