News has surfaced today that German State Schleswig Holstein (SH) is holding a vote to join the National Gaming Treaty, which the remaining 15 states in Germany are already part of, and if passed, the vote will ban Online Poker and Casino Gaming in Germany. There have been discussions on this for almost a year now since the new coalition came into power in June, a coalition that is known for being anti online gaming.
Online Poker in Germany
If the vote is passed, then it will mean the end of Online Poker in Germany, as SH would complete all states signing the treaty. The treaty does, however, permit online sports betting, but bans online poker and casino gaming.
There will only be 20 sports betting licenses issued throughout Germany, and up to now, Schleswig Holstein has been able to issue as many licenses as it wants. In December 2012, Schleswig Holstein granted licenses to Ladbrokes, 888 Holdings, Betfair, bwin.party, and PokerStars, alongside 15 sports betting licenses.
When the new coalition came into power in June 2012, people immediately started speculating that such a vote would come to light, and here it is. The coalition that came to power is known for being very ‘anti online gaming‘, and originally wanted to revoke all licenses and impose a complete ban, however this would have been illegal, so decided to allow the licenses that were already in place to remain.
The European Gaming and Betting Association recently put forward a formal complaint to the European Commission, claiming that Germany’s treaty violates EU law. Because of this, many Online Gaming operators are continuing to offer their services to German residents, as they too, agree with the beliefs of the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA).
In March 2012, the EGBA gave German government two years to prove that their gambling laws abide with EU Regulations.
The Schleswig Holstein parliament will hold a vote on the 23rd January to determine if the state should, or should not join the treaty, although it is widely thought that the vote is going to be passed. Should the vote be passed, then Schleswig-Holstein will join the other states on 7th March 2013.
If the government does win the vote, it is thought that the Treaty would breach EU Law. After the EU objected numerous times, the review period lapsed, without any ruling against SH’s decision. After the new coalition failed to block license applications due to law restrictions, SH committed to joining the remaining German states in the Interstate Treaty. Existing laws mean SH has to honor these agreements until the Interstate Treaty comes into force, and until this time, must continue to process license applications, there are currently 18 casino applications, and 24 sports betting applications pending.