Bookmaker bwin to launch French site after law

VIENNA, April 8 (Reuters) - Austrian Internet bookmaker bwin Interactive Entertainment BWIN.VI plans to restart its French service after France this week allowed commercial operators to offer online gambling, a newspaper reported on Thursday.

The operator, whose chief executives were four years ago briefly detained in France on allegations of illegal gambling, hopes to obtain a license before the summer, Austrian newspaper Die Presse quoted bwin’s Investor Relations manager as saying.

Bwin suspended its French website after the arrest of its two CEOs in September 2006. It has meanwhile founded a joint venture with the publisher of French sports newspaper L’Equipe.

France’s parliament passed a bill on Tuesday to end a state monopoly on online gambling and allow privately owned websites to offer bets on poker, soccer and horse racing. [ID:nLDE6351SJ]

“We have long fought for a liberalisation (of online gambling) and obviously think this is a good decision,” bwin IR chief Konrad Sveceny told Die Presse. Sveceny was not immediately available for a comment. (Reporting by Boris Groendahl; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)