December 26, 2012 : SCHLESWIG HOLSTEIN ONLINE GAMBLING LICENSES NOT VALID FOR ALL GERMANY (Update)
State regulator warns that newly-issued licenses are valid only within Schleswig Holstein
The authorities in Schleswig Holstein, the northern German state which recently issued online casino and poker licenses to twelve leading international internet gambling groups has warned that the licenses are restricted to the provision of gambling services to SH residents, and are not valid for operations throughout Germany's other 15 states.
The clarification was accompanied by the threat of prosecutions against offending operators, and in extreme cases the right to withdraw licensing.
The online publication Casino Choice reports that the warning was issued following a claim by one of the newly licensed operators that his SH licence could be applied for all of Germany.
SH is controversially between a rock and a hard place on the issue of regulation and licensing.
The current state government wants to repeal the more liberal online gambling laws implemented by its predecessor and re-join the 15-state federal Interstate German Treaty on gambling, which is far more restrictive. But it is constrained by a European Commission opinion that favours the existing law and questions some of the treaty's provisions, and by a need to respect and meet its obligations to issue licenses under the law passed by the previous government and not yet repealed.
It's a potentially nightmarish scenario in which SH could incur the displeasure of the EC and at some future point have to answer litigation from its multi-year licensees.
SH's repeal process is currently on hold after the EC rejected its draft proposals, citing concerns over compliance with EU law and the incoherency of German gambling law in general. The Federal High Court in Germany is additionally investigating the dual regulatory regimes involved and the apparent challenge this poses to a previous EU opinion.