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French politicians propose to merge ARJEL with anti-doping agency

5th August 2013 8:25 am GMT

A group of French politicians have introduced a bill to the country’s National Assembly proposing a merger between the country’s online gambling regulator L’Autorité de regulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL) and anti-doping authority l’Agence française de lutte contre le dopage (AFLD).

The rationale behind the merger is that a combined regulatory body would help confirm France’s role “as a leader in the field of sports ethics,” while simultaneously “optimising resources in the fight against illegal betting and cheating in sports”.

However, match-fixing would continue to be handled by a separate, dedicated entity.

The bill, signed by 27 députés of the Assembly, adds that combining each body’s responsibility would achieve “significant” savings at a time when France is looking to cut is public spending.

Under the governance of the combined entity, L’Autorité de l’intégrité du sport et des jeux en ligne, online gambling and anti-doping would be governed by a single management team, and support functions and legal services would be combined.

However, the authority would retain separate disciplinary committees, with one specialising in online gambling, and the other focused on the fight against doping in sport.

L’Autorité de l’intégrité du sport et des jeux en ligne would also take on the responsibilities of the office for public protection, health and fight against drug use relating to athletics, in a measure which would “avoid duplication and thereby achieve further cost savings.”

The bill has been submitted to the Commission for Culture and Education of the National Assembly for review, with a decision likely to be made in the coming months.

A French legal source said the bill was “very succinct” making it “difficult to assess whether this would represent a dilution or a real increase of ARJEL’s powers.”

So far only one other major European regulator has previously merged with another authority, with Italy’s L’Amministrazione autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato (AAMS) combining with the country’s customs authority in June last year to create L’Agenzia delle Dogane ei monopoli, as part of a cost-cutting drive.

The UK government has also made plans to merge the country’s Gambling Commission with the National Lottery Commission, although this is currently being examined by the Department of Culture, Media and Sports given that there were apparent conflicts of interest in the two regulator’s underlying purposes.

The bill submitted to the French National Assembly can be downloaded in full here (FR).

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