The January 1st signing by German states of an anti-online gambling treaty had consequences for the state lottery of Lower Saxony, Toto-Lotto this week. A German court in Oldenburg ruled that the state-owned company is no longer permitted to advertise on the Internet.
At the time of the ban, the German Ministry of the Interior cautioned that the consequences would be felt in the funding of national youth culture and sports projects.
In the Higher Regional Court of Oldenburg ruling, the court cited the treaty which forbids the advertising of online gambling services on the Internet or on television. Toto-Lotto fell foul of the strictly upheld treaty with an advertisment displayed on its own website, and is not allowed to appeal the verdict.
The advertisement appeared on the website of Toto-Lotto Niedersachsen, the monopoly state-lottery in Lower Saxony, and depicted a swimming pool, palm trees and deck chairs, with the legend: “As part of your holiday preparations, don’t forget to play the Lotto before you leave.” It was followed by a link to a Lotto grid.
Germany's Internet gambling measures are becoming increasingly confusing. Last week a court in Berlin ruled in favour of another German lottery operator, Tipp24, in its challenge against the German states treaty, upholding that the legal restrictions enforced were in conflict with German freedom of services laws. And the European Union has already warned that interference with the free movement of goods and services between EU member nations could see the German authorities facing European Court of Justice action.
Critical German media assessments appear to be that the country's State Treaty has failed in achieving its goals of securing income for the state and ensuring a safe and fair market for players. First half financial results have been poor, particularly across German state casinos, sports betting products, and a number of state lotteries.