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NEWS 18 September 2017

German online gambling legislation needs urgent attention, claims minister

By Robert Simmons
Efforts to legalise online gambling in Germany could fail if its 16 individual states do not implement the proposed Interstate Treaty on gambling soon, Saxony-Anhalt Finance Minister André Schröder has warned.

German legislators first introduced the treaty in 2012, in order to create a safe gambling environment for the country's gamblers. The treaty allows licensed online sports betting services, capping the potential number of available licences at 20. This provision was later contested by the European Union’s Court of Justice on the grounds that the cap on licences prevented the free movement of services between EU member states.

The first licences were issued to operators in 2014, however a number of applicants including big-name operators such as bet365, Betclic Everest and Tipico were unsuccessful in their applications, prompting the launch of a legal challenge against the new legislation. This challenge was upheld by the courts, plunging operators and the German states into limbo once more.

A subsequent regulatory amendment in March 2017 increased this licence cap to 40, with 35 international betting operators expressing an interest in entering the German market.

In an interview with the Presseportal website, Schröder said: "The Prime Ministers of all the federal states have agreed on changes to the gaming contract, which was a month-long struggle and a process of weighing up the debts, mainly to address the problems of enforcement that we have with the current regulations - online casinos and sports betting - and to ensure consumer protection.

“Saxony-Anhalt is in favour of this gaming agreement with its amendments. It is now important to ensure ratification.”

In order for the Interstate Treaty to be passed, all 16 individual states must approve and adopt the legislation by January 1st 2018, but Schröder is now calling on other states to move quickly and ratify the legislation to avoid the treaty becoming defunct.

Schröder added: “If the ratification fails in individual countries, then these regulations cannot be applied nationwide as of January 1, 2018. This is unfortunate, because then the current regulations simply would continue.

“Then the execution problems would continue. That is why we are very much campaigning for the counties to ratify. If this is not the case, we need to consider how we can deal with the continuity of current regulations and what we can do to protect consumers."

Torsten Meinberg, leader of the German Lotto and Totoblock (DLTB) echoed Minister Schröder’s comments saying: "If the treaty is not ratified, sports betting will remain gray and illegal gambling cannot be effectively controlled. Foreign gambling providers without a German licence are massively attacking the public-oriented gambling game and ignoring consumer protection. Speedy action is required."

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