The European Commission has launched an investigation into the former French Government-controlled lottery operator, La Française des Jeux (FDJ).
The investigation comes after a €380m payment from FDJ to the French state in 2019 for “remuneration for exclusive rights granted” in respect of the lottery and of sports betting at points of sale.
The lottery operator was partly privatised in 2019 by the Macron administration and it claims that the payment was in line with the terms of the privatisation agreement.
In a statement, the firm said: “FDJ reiterates that as part of its privatisation and under the French Pacte Law, the French State secured, for a period of 25 years, the exclusive rights that the Group had previously held for an unlimited period.
“In exchange for securing these rights, FDJ paid the French State €380m, following compliance approval by the French Holdings and Transfers Commission.”
FDJ was the subject of two complaints which were the catalyst for the European Commission’s investigation.
However, the lottery operator has stressed that its dealings have been constitutional under both French and European legislation.
A statement read: “FDJ is available, along with the French State, to answer any questions from the European and French authorities over the course of these proceedings to provide any information necessary to demonstrate the compliance of this legal framework with French and European law.”
The European Commission is suspicious of the payment and 25-year exclusivity deal, aware that it may flout the EU rules on state market aid.
In a statement on Monday, the Commission said: “The Commission will verify the conformity of the remuneration with market conditions and will not exclude not at this stage that the measure could provide an undue economic advantage to the FDJ.