Louis Dreyfus bets on Mangas Gaming

French commodities trader is about to become a shareholder in the online gambling company jointly owned by Monaco's Societe des Bains de Mer (SBM) and French TV producer Stephane Courbit's company Financieres Lov.

The move first came to light in mid-December, when the European Commission was notified about the acquisition's potentially anti-competitive nature. A ruling is expected towards the end of January, and if favourable, Louis Dreyfus will gain 25% of Mangas Gaming at the expense of Courbit, whose stake will be reduced to 25%. SBM's shareholding will remain unchanged.

Monte Carlo casino mountain view: view from Monte Carlo CasinoWhat's on the horizon for SBM's Mangas Gaming?

Mangas Gaming became part of SBM in 2008, and it is one of Europe's biggest internet betting groups. BetClic, bet-at-home.com, and Expekt are all subsidiaries, and in December the company acquired 60% of online poker company Everest Gaming. Reports suggest that the capital injection from Louis Dreyfus will help fund the latest acquisition.

With so much French investment in the group, it's clear that Mangas Gaming are gearing up to enter the French market which is currently a monopoly. French punters traditionally bet either on the horses or the lottery, and have started to do both online. In 2008, the state owned PMU and the Francaise des Jeux (FDJ) took 540 million euros and 219 million euros online respectively. Illegal sites are estimated to have taken 2.2 billion. There is huge potential for growth in France once the industry is deregulated, and observers are anticipating that the legislation will come into effect in time for the 2010 football world cup.