Saxony-Anhalt Finance Minister Urges Speedy Implementation of Germany’s Interstate Treaty on Gambling

Germany’s long-time online gambling legalization effort could eventually fail, if its 16 federal states do not implement the Interstate Treaty on Gambling hastily, André Schröder, Finance Minister Saxony-Anhalt has warned. His statement was also supported by the Deutscher Lotto- und Totoblock (DLTB).

The Treaty has been in the works for more than five years now, but has been prevented from being implemented due to lack of political accord among lawmakers from the country’s 16 states as well as due to opposition from EU authorities.

Minister Schröder has pointed out that the heads of the 16 states should put consumer protection on top of their priorities when considering the adoption of the gambling treaty. According to the politician, it is namely its adoption that will provide for the creation of a safe gambling environment.

Under the Interstate Treaty on Gambling, interested online sports betting operators will be able to apply for licenses and to operate in a regulated market. At present, online sports betting services are provided in a gray area that has been growing rapidly.

The gambling treaty will need to be approved separately by all 16 states before being able to be implemented nationwide. If the piece of legislation fails to gain the necessary support in a single jurisdiction, this could overturn Germany’s overall legalization effort.

Minister Schröder said that imminent failure could follow, if the states do not approve and adopt the Interstate Treaty on Gambling on January 1, 2018.

Germany’s Thorny Road to Online Gambling Regulation

The country first introduced the Interstate Treaty on Gambling back in 2012. The law called for the legalization of licensed online sports betting services. However, it put a cap on the number of licenses that could be granted to just 20. That particular provision was contested by the Court of Justice of the European Union, and was declared one in breach of EU laws. According to Europe’s highest court, the cap on available licenses prevented the free movement of services within members of the European Union.

Another version of the Treaty was introduced in March 2017. However, it, too, did not remove the cap provision completely, but raised the number of licenses to be issued to 40. So far, 35 international betting operators have expressed interest in entering Germany’s market. The law did not win the favor of the European Union in its renewed form.

The heads of the 16 German states have been reported to have prepared a latest version of the Treaty, which has been the result of more than month-long discussions. It is yet to be seen when and if the new law will be implemented in the 16 states and whether the jurisdictions will follow Minister Schröder’s recommendations for hasty action.