Brussels to Germany: Ditch the Ban, Draft a New Plan

15 August 2007

On July 31, Brussels issued a written response to the controversial German state gaming treaty proposed in December 2006, asserting that the perpetuation of the country's monopoly over Internet sports betting and lotteries (as laid out by the treaty) is not the appropriate move to both curb problem gambling and protect the vulnerable.

The heads of the German federal states approved a new, draft-version of the treaty on Dec. 13, 2006, which seeks the continuation of the state's monopoly until 2011.

Since December, the states have stressed--both internally and to the European Union--that they have the right to exercise their political power to establish guidelines to "protect" both the country's gamblers and its gambling industry under the gaming treaty.

The European Commission disagrees.

In the last detailed statement issued by the commission, it was decided that a complete ban did not constitute a suitable course of action.

German gaming law authority Wulf Hambach explains that this general prohibition was disproportionate, as other, milder methods could be used to achieve these aims, such as stringent registration and age verification measures, as well as introducing a restriction on game stakes.

If the German states elect to keep the treaty as-is, then the commission reserves the right to examine the case again--in particular, the proposed ban on Internet gambling, which the commission could examine for its compatibility with European Economic Community law.

"I’m sure that the European Commission will most definitely initiate a new infringement proceeding against Germany," said Hambach, “as the government failed several times to convince the commission of the EU-legality of the [treaty].”

From Hambach's perspective, the core of the commission's argument is that the general prohibition on Internet gaming is not a suitable method for achieving the aims set out by the treaty--those being preventing gambling addiction and protecting youth.

Rob van der Gaast has a background in sports journalism. He worked for over seven years as the head of sports for Dutch National Radio and has developed new concepts for the TV and the gambling industry. Now he operates from Istanbul as an independent gambling research analyst. He specializes in European gambling matters and in privatizations of gambling operators. Rob has contributed to IGN since Jul 09, 2001.