Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG said it lost a bid to have Germany’s highest civil court halt the enforcement of a ruling barring it from offering sport bets and casino games in Germany over its www.bwin.com Web site.
Bwin had asked the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe, Germany, to halt enforcement of a September court ruling against the online broker while Bwin appeals, the Vienna-based company said in a statement. The shares fell 7.1 percent.
Bwin has been entangled in numerous lawsuits over online betting services offered in Germany. The Austrian broker argues it may offer bets in Germany under a Gibraltar license and a permit issued by the former East German government shortly before the country’s unification. Germany’s 16 states reinstated a complete ban of online bets on Jan. 1.
„Bwin and its legal advisers are confident that we will finally win this case,“ the company said in the statement, adding that it expects the Federal Court of Justice to issue a final ruling within one and a half years. The company „assumes“ that it can maintain its online betting offers under European Union law, Bwin said.
Bwin shares fell 1.32 euros, or 7.1 percent, to 17.20 euros in Vienna today.
Westdeutsche Lotterie GmbH & Co. OHG, or WestLotto, a betting and lottery company controlled by the state of North- Rhine Westphalia, won a ruling against Bwin in 2006, barring the broker from offering and marketing games in Germany. The ruling was backed by the Higher Regional Court of Cologne in September.
While Bwin appealed, WestLotto attempted to enforce the decision. The company can now ask the court to order Bwin to pay fines if it doesn’t comply with the September ruling, Bwin said.
„If we can’t win the case at the Federal Court of Justice or if there is no political solution in the meantime, the penalty payments could have severe negative impacts on the financial situation of the company,“ Bwin said.
The ruling doesn’t affect the www.bwin.de Web site, which is run by Bwin’s German affiliate Bwin e.K., owner of the East German license, the company said.