Last week, the Darmstadt Administrative Court halted Germany’s ongoing sports betting licensing process after the legality of the current procedure was challenged by Austrian operator Vierklee.
This court ruling concerns the current iteration of the State Gambling Treaty and should have no impact on the more fundamental overhaul of Germany’s gambling legislation that is projected to come into force on July 1, 2021.
“Insufficiently transparent and discriminatory”
Although the full court ruling has not yet been published, it is now clear that the Darmstadt Administrative Court found that the current licensing process was insufficiently transparent and did not offer equal opportunities to all interested parties.
For instance, public information on the website of the Regional Council was insufficient to meet the legal transparency standards. More seriously, prospective license applicants were informed at different times about the start of the licensing procedure. Operators already active in the German market benefited from the information policy of the federal states.
The licensing process was also discriminatory, as the procedure did not establish a single point in time for a joint market entry.
Furthermore, the announcement in the Official Journal of the EU made insufficiently clear that operators should apply for a license as quickly as possible in order to avoid being saddled with a future competitive disadvantage.
Unclear and arbitrary licensing criteria
The Darmstadt Administrative Court also criticized the licensing criteria as being unclear and subject to arbitrary change and interpretation. “There remains a great deal of room for interpretation of the licensing criteria. Moreover, it cannot be determined whether and to what extent the gambling supervisory authorities will make use of their scope of interpretation specifically against the applicant,” the presiding judge reportedly said.
As an added complication, the court also pointed toward the constitutionally questionable role of the Glücksspielkollegium, a joint body of the German federal states coordinating interstate gambling regulation. Belonging neither to an individual state nor the federal government, this body lacks the constitutional and democratic legitimacy to be rightfully involved in the decision-making process surrounding individual license applications, the court found.
Decision “big blow” to other operators
The court’s decision was a big blow to the members of the Deutscher Sportwettenverband (DSWV), the association’s president Mathias Dahms said. “Although we were promised as early as 2012 that there would be sports betting licenses, the prospect of being licensed in the very near future – as was finally being made possible by the updated State Gambling Treaty that came into force early this year – is now once again out of the window.”
“This is particularly aggravating as we could have had licenses for quite a while now,” Dahms continued. “But the Glücksspielkollegium has been unable to reach agreement for weeks, even though multiple license applications were ready to be decided upon.”
“I do feel sorry for the employees in the Hessian Ministry of the Interior and the Darmstadt Regional Council, who have been very committed in the past few months to finally make the permit process a success,” Dahm added. “We hope that the authorities can quickly resume the licensing process.”
Upcoming events & webinars
The following events and webinars may be of interest to members of the Gaming in Germany community.
Due to current events, most events that were to take place before the summer have been postponed.
However, the following events are still on track to take place later in the year.
- EASG 2020, the 13th European Conference on Gambling Studies and Policy Issues, will take place in Oslo from 8 – 11 September. This year’s edition will focus on international differences in regulations and operations, as well as different approaches toward prevention, and treatment.
- Betting on Sports America, the largest dedicated sports betting trade show in the world, returns to Meadowlands, New Jersey from 1 – 3 December.
- The World Gaming Executive Summit will return to Barcelona from 7 – 9 December. Key themes on the agenda include AI, the future of land-based gaming, CSR, sustainable marketing, regulation updates, fantasy sports, and emerging marketing opportunities.
- On April 9, the EGR Weekly Virtual Series continues with “North America focus: Eilers & Krejcik Gaming.”
- Tune in on April 15 for Mindway AI‘s second responsible gaming webinar “The Brain: Making decisions or just seeking reward?”
- On April 23, CDC Gaming Seminars will present the webinar “Understanding AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the Best Ways to Use It at Your Casino.”