Wednesday August 8,2012 : SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN'S ONLINE GAMBLING STANCE CHANGING AGAIN? (Update)
Now it appears that online poker licensing is a possibility.
The confusion surrounding the new coalition government of Schleswig-Holsteins policy on internet gambling appears to grow every time a spokesman for the ruling parties speaks to the media.
Since the government took power in the German province earlier this year there have been threats to repeal the liberal regulatory legalization signed into law by the previous government, followed by a more pragmatic stance – perhaps inspired by the threat of litigation from all or some of the seven currently licensed online sports betting companies – that existing licensees would keep their licenses.
The government's present position appears to be that it will be obliged to issue more licenses to applicants under the existing law, with some sources claiming that the issue of another seven licenses is imminent.
If it did not do so, the government could be placed in the embarrassing position of being taken to the courts, which would be obliged to decide the issue on the laws currently in place.
Schleswig-Holstein's ruling parties want to return to the restrictive treaty on gambling supported by the other 15 German lander, or provinces, but finds itself in the difficult position of having a more liberal law already on its books under which licenses have been issued…with more applicants in the pipeline.
This week CDU party politician Hans-Jörn Arp told the local publication Games und Business that Interior Minister Andreas Breitner "now understands that he can no longer exclude the rightful licensing” of online poker in addition to other types of gambling.
If this assessment of the Minister's position is correct, it could open the door to a wider array of applicants than those interested only in sports betting, which has been the case thus far.
It is understood that as many as 14 companies in the Schleswig-Holstein licence application pipeline are interested in online casino and poker activity.
How this will impact any SH rapprochement with the signatories to the German Treaty is unknown. The monopolistic treaty, already frowned on by the European Commission, permits only the limited issue of sports betting licenses and has no provision at all for other genres of online gambling.