Sports Betting Legislation in Germany Can’t Get Traction

sports-betting-germanyGermans love their sports. But perhaps even more than that, Germans love sports betting. As reported recently on www.gambling.org, sports betting is a national pastime in Germany, where ten percent of the world’s online gamblers reside. That seems hard to believe for a country the size of Germany, but since Germany is the world’s third largest economy in nominal GDP, that certainly seems feasible. Having more disposable income than most other countries citizens, Germans don’t hesitate when it comes to betting on their favorite sports. It’s widely accepted and doesn’t come with the same negative connotations, as is the case with online gambling in other countries.

The problem arises with the German government and their overly conservative attitude towards gambling. The European Union has fairly liberal gambling laws that are in direct conflict with German legislation. But because Germany is a member of the EU, as such, they are subject to the harmonization of law. This is the process of creating common standards, and is what the EU is trying to accomplish with gambling law. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Germany has to immediately change their laws to conform to those of the EU. Slowly but surely, the EU is effecting change to online gambling legislation in Germany.

The German government has been trying to bring their sports betting law into compliance with EU standards, but last week was another example of unintentional consequences. The Administrative Court of Wiesbaden, citing EU law, ruled that the German government did not have the authority to place a cap on the number of sports betting licenses to be issued. Germany originally announced in September, 2014, that there would be a total of twenty licenses available, and those would be to betting operatives who already had a presence in the country. That decision was faced with legal challenges by other betting operatives, such as Tipico, who were shut out. These lawsuits prevented the original twenty licenses from being issued. So now, with the latest ruling by the Wiesbaden Court, the issuance of sports betting licenses is still in limbo.

Tipico CEO Jan Bolz said the Wiesbaden court’s ruling “clearly states that Tipico meets all qualitative criteria to obtain a sports betting license in Germany and that there cannot be any doubt about the legality of our business activities. As the leading provider, we will do our part and continue to constructively help pave the way for legally compliant regulations in Germany.”

Last month, state ministers agreed to raise the number of available licenses to 40, twice the original 20. But there were 85 original license applicants. Some of those operatives were already voluntarily paying taxes on revenue derived from German bettors. German Sports Betting Association (DSWV) president, Mathiass Dahms, said the proposed 40-license cap was as arbitrary as the original 20-license cap, and called on German legislators to “fundamentally reform” the State Treaty on Betting to “finally establish legal certainty.”

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