03-19-2012

Setting the course in Gambling Law – Well-Fortified State Monopoly on the Verge of Major Changes




On March 2, the German Lottery Association and publishing house Medien und Recht Vienna-Munich held the second Düsseldorf Symposium on Gambling Law at the offices of Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek on the status quo of liberalization of the gambling market. The top-class event exchanged entrepreneurial, political and EU points of view and will be reflected as part of the publishing house's gambling law series in Volume 4.

The participants were introduced to the topic when Mathias Dahms, CEO of Hamburg-based Jaxx SE, reported on the "Gambling War in Germany." The title alluded to the different ways in which gambling is handled by the German states. From a business point of view, Dahms called for legal certainty and a non-discriminatory access to the market. In addition, duties and taxes should be brought in line with international levels. A broader permissible product portfolio besides sports betting, such as offerings of poker and casino as well as a regulatory focus on preventing fraud and less on addictiveness would also be advantageous. The last remaining large state monopoly was more fortified than all of the other liberalized markets previously. Against this background, Schleswig-Holstein would be leading the way with its new gambling law. In addition, it would offer companies the possibility of nationwide marketing, of which Jaxx intends to make use shortly and thus would like to penetrate the gambling market from Schleswig-Holstein.

Prof. Dr. Kurt Schelter, minister, retired state secretary and a Brussels-based lawyer, reported on the objectives of the European Commission to promote the exchange of ideas of national public authorities with regard to regulating the gambling market. No other area is as diverse from state to state as the area of gambling law.

Dr. Christian von Boetticher, a member of the CDU state parliamentary faction in Kiel, provided an insight into the political decision-making process on the state level. He was extensively involved in the preparation of a new draft law in Schleswig-Holstein and reported on the necessity of changing routine processes via ministries and transforming an administrative process into a political process. Only in this way could market regulation be achieved that also complies with European standards.

The national differences of European gambling law were identified by lawyers Dr. Tobias Masing of Redeker Sellner Dahs, Berlin, Kiran Sandford of Mishcon de Reya, London, and Annabelle Richard of Ichay & Mullenex, Paris, when they compared the legal situations in Germany, England and France.
Host Michael Schmittmann, lawyer and partner at Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek and editor of the publication series on European Gambling Law summarized as follows: "We expect major changes in German gambling law this year, which are necessary, though. The political decision-makers should take other regulated markets as a model, put the topic on the agenda and not degenerate into panic-mongering against an opening of the domestic market. With the Schleswig-Holstein state law and the planned EU White Paper from Brussels, important milestones are being set in gambling law. The 15 German states have only been able to agree on an unusable draft state treaty with more brakes than horsepower with regard to a competition-friendly and nevertheless consumer-protective gambling market. Either they intervene themselves with a new design or they will be given the red card from the European Court of Justice once again as was the case in 2010 already with the previous model."

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