Overview, Update and Outlook by Carsten Bringmann Senior Associate at the International law firm, Hogan Lovells in Dusseldorf
Germany is one of the most attractive and expanding gambling markets worldwide: With a GGR of around 14 billion EUR in 2018, it is the third biggest gambling market in Europe after Italy and the UK. Although it offers profitable income opportunities for the gaming industry, gaming companies have to face a complicated and restrictive German gambling legislation. Though the regulation in the gambling sector is very dynamic and constantly adapting to the reality of the fast changing gambling market, gambling law in Germany is still dominated by one essential legal framework, the State Treaty on Gambling from 15 December 2011 [“State Treaty” – Glücksspielstaatsvertrag] that was concluded by the 16 federal states. Each federal state has implemented the State Treaty into its respective state law. As the key regulation on gambling in Germany, the State Treaty contains the basic legal requirements for the organization of all types of gambling across the German federal states. It provides detailed provisions and guidelines for gambling, in particular for lotteries and betting services.
According to the State Treaty, public gambling services can only be provided on the German gambling market if the respective operator holds a gambling license. But in practice the picture in the sports betting sector has been a different one until recently. The granting of licences for sports betting on basis of the State Treaty was firstly introduced in 2012. In 2014, 15 unsuccessful applicants for the sports betting licences obtained preliminary injunctions against the competent authority for granting licences to 20 selected applicants only. As a consequence of court rulings in favour of the dismissed competitors, the competent authority for issuing the licences had not been able to issue a single license for organizing sports betting in Germany. However, up to now, the German gambling supervising authorities tolerate the organization of sports betting services as long as they meet the further requirements set out by the State Treaty without a formal license.
This legal situation changed fundamentally on 1 January 2020, when the Third Amendment to the State Treaty on Gambling [“Third Amendment”] came into force. Through this amendment, the German sports betting market has finally gained legal certainty. The Third Amendment introduces a new application procedure for sports betting licences and opens its sports betting market to international sports betting providers. For the first time, the sports betting market will be completely opened for international providers who will now finally be able to establish their sports betting business in Germany
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