In mid-February, the Berlin Senate passed a draft resolution to modify German gambling laws which specifically deal with gaming machines.
One of the provisions of the new gambling legislation severely restricts the construction of new ‘arcades’ full of electronic gambling devices such as video slots or video poker. During last week’s Berlin Council of Mayors meeting, district mayors heavily criticized the draft of the Senate Arcade Act for being too vague and poorly worded.
The Council of Mayors is worried about multiple lawsuits that could arise because of the laws’ inherent weaknesses. The Council sharply rebuked lawmakers for their poor choice of words and lack of clarity – “The Council of Mayors is strongly against the current draft of the Berlin Gaming Machines Act. The Act’s abstract and vague language will result in a flood of lawsuits against the city and we see no possible way to neither implement nor enforce it.”
The Council of Mayors had multiple problems with each section of the new gambling Act and was vocal in showing their displeasure. One section of the new Gaming Machine Act is to require immediate closure of all gaming halls which are ‘too close’ to schools, youth facilities or houses of worship. The mayors are incensed that the term ‘too close’ was left undefined and thus open to individual interpretation by gambling operators, law enforcement, prosecutors and judges.
The Mayors worry that such abstract wording will create problems since what is ‘too close’ for one individual may be ‘too far’ for another. The law also forgets to define the total number of gambling machines required to be on the premises to distinguish a gaming hall from a restaurant with one video poker machine.
“The question of the distance to be observed remains open as well as the definition of what specifically constitutes a ‘Gaming Machine Hall’,” the Mayors stated. The Berlin Senate will take up suggestions and recommendations of the Council of Mayors in the second round of voting.
Land based gambling is fully legal within the country. However, the same cannot be said about online gambling in Germany, which is still illegal. Hundreds of thousands of German gamers disregard the prohibition by playing at foreign based online casinos, bingo halls and poker rooms.
The EU, which seeks uniformity in laws throughout all member countries, has criticized and put pressure for the ban on internet betting in Germany to be lifted. EU demands that Germany’s gambling market, currently dominated by a government controlled monopoly, must open to all companies from all EU countries.