Friday, December 2,2011 : Germany's reformed gambling plan still protects or advantages local state monopolies, says gambling group
Online gambling group Betfair has followed up on its threat earlier this year that it would protest against the proposed new German gambling laws, submitting a formal complaint this week to the European Commission.
The complaint objects to the draft German "liberalisation" regime on grounds that it continues to advantage and protect German provincial monopolies. It requests that the Commission take action to ensure that the German states – excluding the breakaway state of Schleswig Holstein – comply with European Court of Justice rulings and European Union free market principles.
The Betfair complaint was lodged in Brussels Wednesday and claims that the draft laws do not go far enough and remain focused on shielding local state monopolies.
Despite recent updates in the wake of ECJ decisions, the proposals remain favourable to incumbent state companies through concession requirements and selection criteria, meaning that the monopoly has been effectively left largely in force, Betfair argues.
The revised laws now include reduced taxation rates and an increase in licenses for applicant companies from 7 to 20.
Martin Cruddace, Betfair’s chief legal and regulatory affairs officer, said: “The salient points of the European Commission’s detailed opinion have as of yet not been addressed … under these current proposals Germany’s new state treaty will be out of line and out of touch with fundamental EU law.”
The complaint could put an obstacle in the way of the German states' goal of securing EC approval by December 15.
The breakaway state of Schleswig Holstein, which has developed its own European Commission-approved online gambling regulations, remains the favoured way forward for many internet gambling companies seeking to enter the German market.
The Betfair threat did not seem to concern a spokesman from the Rhineland-Pfalz state, who told the Financial Times that politicians were confident of obtaining the support of the EC in the dispute.
That confidence may be misplaced; the fact that the states market gambling services vigorously has been found by the ECJ to undermine German claims that monopolised gambling is necessary to control addictive gaming.