German Court orders state lottery to end online advertising

Toto-Lotto Niedersachsen, the state lottery of Lower Saxony, has been told that it can no longer advertise its products via the internet by the Higher Regional Court of Oldenburg. The verdict cites the German State Treaty on Gambling which prohibits advertising of gambling over the Internet and television.

The advertisement in question appeared on the company’s website and depicted a swimming pool, palm trees and deck chairs, with a caption reading: “As part of your holiday preparations, don’t forget to play the Lotto before you leave.” The phrase was followed by a link to a Lotto grid.

The court considered the advertisement to be an unlawful invitation to participate in a game of luck, and ruled that it directly contravened Paragraph 5 of the State Treaty on Gambling which prohibits the marketing of games of luck via TV, Internet or by phone. Lotto Niedersachsen has been told it cannot appeal the verdict.

In contradiction to this ruling, last week the Administrative Court of Berlin ruled in favour of online lottery operator Tipp24 in its challenge against the German State Treaty on Gambling. As part of its ruling the court declared that legal restrictions placed on Tipp24’s online and offline advertising contravened German law with regard to the freedom to provide services.

The State Treaty has so far seemingly failed in achieving its objectives of securing income for the state and ensuring a safe and fair market for players. First half financial results have been poor, particularly across German state casinos, sports betting products, and a number of state lotteries.

Earlier this year, Germany’s Ministry of Interior sounded a warning that the funding of sports, youth and culture would suffer as a result of a lack of funding, money that had previously been secured through lottery sales.