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Germany Defies EU Online Gambling Directives


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Despite pressure from the European Commission (EC) for EU member states to
comply with its online gambling fair trade rules and directives, Germany has
stubbornly refused to comply, opting instead to pass its own State Treaty on
Gambling.

Even though an EU high court ‘rapped Germany over the knuckles’ last month for
refusing to open up its online gambling market in line with many other European
countries, 15 of Germany’s 16 states have called for the passing of its state
treaty, which could see the number of permitted online gambling operators in the
country limited to just 20.

The State Treaty on Gambling, which first came to light in 2006, has gained much
strength over the years despite ongoing pressure from the EC, and could come
into effect by as early as July next year. If the treaty becomes law, German
authorities will likely introduce a turnover tax of  five percent, limit
gamblers to playing funds of just €1,000 a month, and most worryingly, ban all
online casino games, poker games and live betting services.

RGA Concerned About German Gambling Monopoly

This move by the majority of German states to effectively create another type of
gambling monopoly has raised concerns amongst many of the world’s leading online
gambling organisation and operators, including the Remote Gambling Association (RGA),
which looks out for the interests of the world’s biggest gaming operators.

Said RGA chief executive officer, Clive Hawkswood, ‘There appears to be no
connection between the desire to provide German citizens with a regulated market
and the actual text of the State Treaty on Gambling. The Minister Presidents say
on one hand that they want to encourage sports betting with regulated German
operators, but at the same time deny this to citizens who wish to partake of
casino and poker games online.’

‘The European Commission has repeatedly stated that the draft State Treaty on
Gambling falls foul of EU law and the latest version appears to make little
headway in meeting the Commission’s concerns,’ continued Hawkswood. ‘In fact,
such an approach simply makes the Schleswig-Holstein proposal more attractive
and creates a fragmented, confusing and undesirable situation for German
consumers.’

Schleswig-Holstein Opts to Open its Gambling Market

Interestingly, the only German state that has chosen to open up its online
gambling market according to EU directives is the Northern German state of
Schleswig-Holstein. In September this year, the state passed online
gambling-friendly legislation which as from January 2012 will allow operators
(who apply for and are granted licenses) to offer online sports betting, casino
games (except baccarat, blackjack and roulette), and poker games in the state.

Large online gambling firms Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment and Betfair are
reportedly interested in applying for licenses to operate in Schleswig-Holstein,
despite the 20 percent gross tax the state is expected to levy on online
gambling profits.

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