Giant telecommunications firm Deutsche Telekom has announced that it has applied for one of the 20 online sports betting licenses made available by the German authorities. The massive corporation – whose T-Mobile brand is present across the world – is also looking into acquiring Deutsche Sportwetten, a subsidiary of online and mobile casino operator Casino Austria.
It signals the first foray into online sportsbooks in Germany for the telecommunications giant, after their shareholders voted to allow the company to take part in online betting operations in 2012. The license they have applied for would limit their interests to sports betting, with a complete ban on poker and casino products included in the license description.
German gambling laws are kept under tight control, with some companies scaling back their operations in the country due to what they see as unfair tax and regulatory hurdles. Among the operators to start pulling back from the German market are betting giants William Hill and Betfair, opening up the market for this potential challenge from Deutsche Telekom.
One state in Germany, the northern Schleswig-Holstein, has more liberal gambling laws than the rest of the country, and many major operators, such as Bwin, have been pressing for these more liberal laws to be adopted across the whole of the country. At the moment, though, it seems as though German gambling laws are going to remain tightly controlled, at least for the foreseeable future.
A spokesman for Deutsche Telekom commented on the license, issued in the state of Hesse: "It is not yet certain whether that will turn into an operating business.”
If it does turn into an operating business, though, the company could use its considerable financial clout to establish itself as a major player in the German sportsbook market.