Don't Expect the German Market to Open up in Time for World Cup '06

15 November 2005

After a hearing of the First Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, Germany, on Nov. 8, eight judges are tasked with determining the future of the odd-set sports betting monopoly in Germany.

Critical questions have been posed to the advocates and the opponents of the free market, and all related matters have been discussed in depth. In sports terms, one could say that the hearing was a draw.

The only thing that's left to do for Irene Katzinger-Göth (the bookmaker who started the chain of court cases for a free sports betting market) and the rest of the sports betting industry is to wait for the judges of the Bundesverfassungsgericht to decide whether Germany gets a liberalized sports betting market or keeps the state-owned betting system.

It is absolutely unknown when the Bundesverfassungsgericht will announce the final decision; it will be months before the white or black smoke will indicate whether the betting monopoly will be opened up.

And if . . . if . . . there will be a liberalization of the sports betting market, it will be at least eight months before a new sports betting law can be written and implemented. For optimistic sports betting operators who thought this will be over in time for World Cup Soccer, this is bad news.

Another negative point is that, immediately after the hearing in Karlsruhe, the German Football League and the German Football Association, announced that the bookmakers have to pay for property--and copyrights--for composing the playing schedules starting in the 2006/07 season.

"Our legal view has always been that the organizer should be paid for its product," Thomas Summerer, the head of the DFL's legal department, explained, "and football is just another commercial product."

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.