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Germany – Confusion reigns for Schleswig-Holstein internet casinos

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Internet casino operators whose licenses were approved by the German province of Schleswig-Holstein still don’t know whether they will be able to offer their services to German players in the future, as the newly elected government looks to rejoin the German Treaty which doesn’t permit online gambling.

Legislators in the province have officially decided to continue issuing online licenses to applicants until the European Commission approves the newly proposed gambling law of the province.

A new process has started in parliament to reject the online gambling laws introduced by the previous government but it has still not officially suspended the right for the newly licensed operators to run their sites. There are currently seven operators with a Schleswig-Holstein internet gambling license with another 30 in the legislative pipeline.

European law states that the European Commission must be granted opportunity to comment on any new legislation governing online gambling which is proposed by member states. Whilst the province waits for such a comment, the operators in possession of an online licence are legally allowed to continue offering their gambling services to German citizens.

Interior Minister Andreas Breitner said: “Gambling operators are legally entitled to receive a license, as long as the relevant criteria are fulfilled. It also means that any licenses that have already been granted remain valid for the specified period.”

The newly elected Schleswig-Holstein government moved to ban the law, adopted in late 2011 by the previous government, but found this difficult as the European Commission had already approved it earlier the year.
The Federal Gambling Treaty was adopted by 14 other German states on July 1 and bans all forms of online gambling except sports betting. The picture is clouded further by the fact that the European Commission wants Germany to adopt a more liberal treaty within the next two years because the current one contravenes EU laws.

Politicians are worried that Schleswig-Holstein will be termed a ‘lawless state’ where new laws are approved and the repelled overnight. There is also concern that the state could face serious lawsuits from operators who have invested based on the previous law.

The seven to have received licences are Betfair, Jaxx and Oddest bet365, bwin.party, bet-at-home and Tipico. Bwin Party has already launched legal suits against the new government claiming it is delaying its launch without any reason.

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