Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Germany enters a 'historical year' as SH refuses to sign new Treaty

BERLIN - Schleswig-Holstein (SH), the German Federal State that adopted a law liberalising online gambling last September, has refused to sign the new Interstate Treaty on Gambling (ITG), approved by all the other Lander on 15 December.

Since SH's gambling law will come into effect on 1 January it is "very likely the new year will turn out to be a historical year in German gambling legislation, because the online market for sports betting, and casino games insofar as SchleswigHolstein is concerned, will be opened for the first time for private operators", said Matthias Spitzer, Attorney at Melchers Law. Much to the annoyance of the other states, SH will continue to pursue its own gambling policy "for the time being", said Barbara Ploeckl, Associate at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Spitzer adds: "There is no evidence that SH would turn back, quite the contrary." It is expected that SH will start issuing licences in January or February.

Germany's 15 other Federal States did sign the new ITG, which retains public monopolies by existing state companies. But when the new ITG will become actual law is difficult to say since the "[15] states agreed to only pass the law onto the parliaments of their states for ratification once the European Commission (EC) has given a positive comment", said Ploeckl.

It is not likely the EC will approve this ITG. The previous draft text  which hardly differs from the latest version  was fiercely rejected by the EC in July. Back then, the EC called the proposed regime 'anti-competitive' and even recommended SH's liberal law as a model for a future ITG.

Published previously in the December issue of World Online Gambling Law Report, CPP. Copyrights apply.