But sports betting still under discussion
Online gambling companies and the European Commission have been wrestling with the 16 states of Germany for years in attempts to liberalise the nation's market in line with more progressive countries in Europe. The problem is that the states, all signatories to a treaty keeping competition out, have no intention of relinquishing their lucrative monopoly – especially on lotteries.
On Wednesday this week there was no sign that the Germans intend to get into step with their neighbours any time soon.
Wolfgang Boehmer, state premier of Saxony-Anhalt, revealed after a meeting with his colleagues on Wednesday that they had agreed to keep the monopoly on lotteries in force. On a more positive note, the fate of sports betting remains under discussion, with conflicting views which could be resolved by February 2011, when the heads of states chancelleries are scheduled to address the issue.
The treaty locking up the German gambling market expires at the end of 2011, requiring that new regulations be drawn up if the market is to remain in the hands of the 16 states.
Federal government approval of such new legalization will also have to obtained, and it is known that some states where the ruling Christian Democratic party holds sway favour a liberalisation of the sports betting market – a business that is probably worth billions of Euros. Others dominated by the opposition Social Democrats appear generally against allowing sports betting through private operators.
So far, the Germans have kept the European Commission at bay by arguing that the monopoly protects customers from fraud and addiction by keeping lotteries, sports betting and other kinds of gambling limited to only state-run operators. However, in September this year, the European Court of Justice rebuked Germany for its restrictions, which challenge the fairness and principles of European Union law.
The enforcement arm for EU policies, the European Commission, commented to the German newspaper ‘De Welt' Thursday, saying: "The EU Commission hopes the result of the discussion among state premiers will lead to reforms that will be consistent with EU law."
Latest figures on lottery revenues in Germany put the annual total at around Euros 2.8 billion in 2009.