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Delay For Schleswig Holstein
12/09/2012 : SCHLESWIG HOLSTEIN MAY NOT BE RE-JOINING THE GERMAN GAMBLING TREATY JUST YET
Detailed opinion by the European Commission could impose a delay
Serious European Commission doubts about whether changes to gambling law in the German state of Schleswig Holstein comply with EU law may delay the state's efforts to rejoin the German Treaty on gambling, itself questionable in terms of European treaties.
This week the European Gaming and Betting Association, which represents most of Europe's major betting firms, welcomed the European Commission’s ‘detailed opinion’ against the SH Draft Act amending acts pertaining to gambling law in Schleswig-Holstein.
SH's Gaming Amendment Act seeks to replace existing liberal and EC-approved legislation on internet gambling with the restrictive and controversial German State Treaty on gambling.
The detailed opinion confirms that there are real concerns with Schleswig-Holstein’s proposed switch from a transparent licensing model to one that is restrictive and opaque, raising further doubts about the overall compliance and consistency of the German gambling regime with EU law.
Under Directive 98/34/EC, Schleswig-Holstein must not adopt its draft legislation before January 2013. The state is also required to respond to the latest EC opinion, detailing its intentions, and is barred from implementing the proposed legislation for six months, calculated from the original date of its submission to the EC. That implies a delay that could run into March 2013.
Schleswig-Holstein notified its proposed legislation to the Commission on 6 September 2012. This week the Commission issued its detailed opinion, backed by the governments of Malta and the UK.
Objections to the German Treaty which SH seeks to join include reservations about its prohibitive and restrictive model which bans online poker and casino action; the imposition of an uncompetitive tax regime; and restrictions on online sports betting licenses to just 20 issues.
Sigrid Ligné, secretary general of EGBA, said Friday: “Schleswig-Holstein’s proposed move from a sustainable and EU compliant licensing system to an inconsistent and unjustifiably restrictive regime would be a significant step backwards, one that - as confirmed today - the European Commission cannot approve”.
Ligné claimed the EC position on the non-compliance of German law with EU requirements was consistent with its view as stated back in July 2011.
She said that the tendering procedure for the allocation of the 20 online betting concessions under the German States Treaty is currently managed by the state of Hessen and has already resulted in more than 100 applications, but fails to provide the applicants with clear, transparent and reliable information on the criteria which will be used for allocating the 20 concessions.
“The European Commission’s detailed opinion against Schleswig-Holstein sends a clear message that Member States are no longer going to be allowed to impose gaming regulations that fail to meet the tests set by the European Court of Justice," Ligné said.
"The German states cannot continue to ignore the warnings coming from Brussels and the growing criticism, evidenced by the multiplication of complaints and litigation even before the new legislation is introduced. This creates an extreme level of legal uncertainty which is damaging for all parties and German consumers in particular.
"At this stage, only the EC can restore legal security by acting on the many complaints it has received, not only against Germany, but also against Greece, Belgium and several other Member States.”
The European Commission confirmed on 23 October 2012 in its communication on online gambling that “...ensuring compliance of national law with the Treaty is a prerequisite of a successful EU policy on online gambling,” adding that it would take action against all Member States whose legislation does not comply with EU law.
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