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France – Judge orders retender for Berck casino concession

By - 14 August 2023

Infinity-DRGT has successfully challenged the validity of the Berck casino concession awarded to Partouche with the administrative courts on July 17.

The Société Grand Casino de Dinant, owned by Infiniti-DRGT Group, which was a candidate in the casino tender, presented the administrative judge with a pre-contractual summary of the conditions of the award which it claimed were illegal. The judge canceled the procedure, based on the principle of equal treatment of candidates, which likely harmed the other competitors chances of winning, including Grand Casino de Dinant.

In its reasoning, the Administrative Court of Lille (Nord) said: “The company Jean Metz, a subsidiary of the Partouche Group and operator of the casino of the municipality of Berck-sur-Mer since 1991, has been carrying out its activity since 1998 within the premises of the former municipal bus station, located Place du 18 juin and acquired in 1997 by its parent company. Not being the owner of the building currently assigned to the casino activity, granted to the company Jean Metz for a period of 18 years from January 1, 2006, the municipality of Berck-sur-Mer informed the candidates at the renewal of this public service concession, expiring on December 31, 2023, that the choice of the operating building was left to their discretion, provided, according to article 1.4 of the consultation rules, that it is “suitable for the operating constraints of a gaming establishment”, that it is located “on the territory of the municipality” and that it “does not constitute returnable property”.

As reported by Journal des Casinos, the court also refered to the extremely short duration of this public service delegation, set by the municipality at five years and 10 months, which had raised several questions from elected officials.

“The duration of the concession contract, the investigation of which has moreover established that it had only been determined to coincide with the expiry of the commercial lease and the closing of the last accounting year of the current concessionaire, obviously did not allow a candidate from outside Groupe Partouche to make the investments required to make a serious alternative offer to that of the occupant of the building currently housing its casino profitable, the municipality of Berck-sur-Mer failed to recognize the principle of equal treatment of candidates. Such a failure is likely to have harmed the applicant company.”

In addition to the invalidation of this notice of concession, the administrative court condemned the commune of Berck-sur-Mer and the company Jean Metz to pay, each, the sum of 1,000 euros to the Société du Grand Casino de Dinant.

Infiniti-DRGT Group said: “The Grand Casino de Dinant company hopes that the next procedure for awarding the casino’s public service delegation will place all the candidates in an equal situation.”

The municipality must now approve a one-year extension of the current concession and the launch of a new call for tenders.

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