German sporting bodies unite to open markets

18 May 2010
We were pleased to hear the news coming out of Germany last week that the country's Olympic Sports Federation has called upon the government to legalise sports betting. The OSF has joined forces with the Bundesliga – the country's major football league – in calling for the German Interstate Gambling Treaty (2006) to be overturned, and this collaboration of top sporting bodies is good news for the German consumer. Currently, Germany forbids its citizens from betting online, unless they do so with the State monopoly provider, and it is exactly this type of situation we at right2bet are trying to reverse. The betting industry does not differ from other sectors in that when only one operator is permitted to offer its services, customers directly lose out in terms of the quality of product, the range of service, and the value they derive from it. In fact, Our Betting challenge shows that German punters forced to bet with Lotto Bayern, are subjected to odds that are on average 34% worse than other private European operators. Yet aside from the direct misgivings mentioned above, German customers, and sports fans in particular also suffer as a result of their sports clubs and associations being forced by the government to shun an industry that is willing and able to pour millions of Euros into all levels of German sport. At the top, sports clubs in Germany are unable to agree sponsorship deals with major European betting operators, and this in turn disadvantages them from the competition elsewhere in the continent. Furthermore, the funding generated in high-level deals often trickles down to all forms of the game, and consequently, as a result of this revenue stream not being available to those at the professional level, grassroots and amateur sports suffer as a result. The ostracizing of the legitimate betting industry in Germany has a direct financial impact on both punters and sporting bodies, though it isn't just in the pocket where people are being unfairly hit. Sporting bodies and the betting industry have a mutual interest in ensuring that all forms of sport are clear of corruption and fraud. This shared ambition of unwavering integrity was highlighted recently in the UK when the Professional Players Foundation signed a landmark agreement with several major betting operators to educate professional sportsman on the dangers of corruption. Voluntary acts such as this highlight a point that we have been at pains to make for some time, that private betting operators have shown and continue to show a strong commitment towards integrity and transparency, and as a result, consumers across Europe would be safe and secure when allowed to wager in a market that included these responsible operators, rather than excluded them. German consumers are currently not only forced to use an inferior product, but due to the enforced lack of choice, many of them are being ushered into the realms of black market betting. This dangerous status quo can in our opinion only be reversed when the relevant authorities choose to work together with sporting bodies and the betting industry, not against them The government's insistence on protecting a monopoly that offers its citizens an inferior product and a customer security environment that is no better, possibly even worse, than that offered by the excluded competition, is a policy that needs to change. The decision of the OSF to come out in support of this policy-change is a vital step in the right direction. We hope that they, along with the consumers signing our petition, will force the German authorities to review their current position which continues to disadvantage their sporting institutions and their citizens.

Ari Last

Ari writes and reports about European gambling issues for Right2Bet, an organization dedicated to allowing EU citizens to be able to bet with whichever EU-licensed betting company they wish, regardless of in which member state that company is based.