According to a press release of 28 October 2016, the Prime Minister Conference agreed to repeal the limitation to 20 licenses for private sports betting providers. Further, the German gambling regulators are invited to take appropriate enforcement measures on illegal gambling, in particular, online-gambling.
In 2012, the new Interstate Treaty on Gambling (Glücksspielstaatsvertrag – “GlüStV”) entered into force. The current GlüStV 2012 allows for only a limited number of 20 sports betting licenses for private sports betting providers across Germany, Section 10a(3) GlüStV. This limitation led to severe concerns by the Court of Justice of the European Union in its judgment of 4 February 2016, C-336/14. Further, on 15 April 2016, the Administrative Court Wiesbaden ordered the Federal State Hessen to grant a sports betting license to the benefit of a sports betting provider based in Malta; in particular, the Administrative Court Wiesbaden held that the limitation to 20 licensors would qualify as breach of the freedom to provide services as guaranteed under Article 56 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
Outcome of the Prime Minister Conference
Obviously driven by the criticism raised by German and European Courts, the Prime Minister Conference decided to adjust the sports betting license scheme under the GlüStV accordingly. In particular, the Prime Minister Conference agreed to repeal the limitation to 20 licenses for private sports betting providers. In the future, sports betting licenses shall be issued on the basis of minimum quality standards which need to be complied with by the relevant applicant.
Further, the German gambling regulators are asked to assess and report certain specific aspects, which fall within their responsibility to evaluate the GlüStV and the gambling market pursuant to Section 32 GlüStV. The Prime Minister Conference addressed in particular the following items:
- Assess and report how enforcement vis-à-vis online gambling offers, in particular illegal lotteries, sports betting, and online casinos, can be sustainably improved in the short and medium term.
- Evaluate whether the establishment of a new public agency could contribute to support enforcement in these arears. Further, the gambling regulators are asked to consider simplification of identification and authentication of players in the internet, and substitution of the monthly stake-limit of EUR 1,000 by a loss-limit of EUR 1,000.
- Evaluate the use of a nationwide block mechanism (German: Sperrdatei).
- Analyze the developments in the field of online casinos, taking into account the experiences in other EU member states, in particular potential measures which could improve enforcement of the GlüStV in this area.
The agreement among the Prime Ministers is only a first step, and subject to further course of legislative procedure. In the meantime, German gambling regulators apply a preliminary work-around under which licenses for sports betting providers are granted on a preliminary basis.