The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig, Germany ruled late last month that an existing ban on online casino, poker, and scratchcard games complied with German constitution and did not violate EU treaties for the free movement of services across the union.
The court decision was issued in relation to two former appeals submitted by unnamed Malta- and Gibraltar-licensed operators that had provided their gaming services within Germany’s borders. One of the operators had also offered online sports betting without holding the necessary license for conducting the activity.
Here it is important to note that sports betting and lottery games are excluded from the existing online gambling ban. However, operators that want to offer their products to German gambling customers are yet to receive the necessary licenses for the purpose.
According to the court decision, the prohibition on casino, poker, and scratchcard games should not be considered as a measure violating EU laws for freedom to provide services between Member States. The Federal Court also added that the ban was implemented to prevent children and vulnerable people from falling victims to the unrestricted availability of gambling options on the Internet.
Although the latest ruling came as a further affirmation of the existing online gambling ban, it did not change significantly the nation’s gambling landscape, which is shaped by rather fuzzy regulations and lack of accord between the leaders of Germany’s sixteen states.
Germany’s Gambling Regulatory Framework
It has been for five years now that the country has been trying to implement a nationwide regulatory framework on gambling that would allow interested international operators to apply for licenses for the operation of online sports betting. The Interstate Treaty on Gambling was first introduced in 2012 and was gradually adopted by all sixteen states in 2013.
However, the new gambling law was contested by the EU as it featured a cap on the number of operators that would be allowed to enter Germany to just 20. EU authorities argued that the Treaty was violating union-wide agreements for the free distribution of services among Member States.
A revised version of the Treaty was introduced this past spring, which did not lift the cap on licensees but only increased it to 40. The challenges before the legislative piece and the failure of the sixteen state heads to agree on uniform regulation of Germany’s gambling industry further delayed its implementation.
As mentioned above, the latest version of the Interstate Treaty on Gambling was presented this spring. However, it is yet to come into force and its is rather unclear when this will happen. The matters got even more complicated in September when Schleswig-Holstein officials argued that the Treaty still breached EU laws, despite the introduced amendments.
Officials for the state further noted that they would rather adopt their own gambling law, one that was compliant with EU treaties and that would also legalize online casino and poker games, in addition to sports betting.
Robert Johnson is an experienced web author and blogger. He has over three years of experience as a freelance journalist and writer.