The recent Cologne Court ruling which forbade all forms of legal sports betting for any Hartz IV welfare recipients has no effect on the approximately 1,100 lottery outlets in the Rhineland-Palatinate province, according to Hans-Peter Schoessler, Managing Director of Lotto Rheinland-Pfalz. Hartz IV, officially known as Arbeitslosengeld II, is the term for the monthly welfare payments and unemployment benefits provided to the non-working poor in Germany.
Approximately 7 million Germans currently receive Hartz IV, which include payments of €359 per month for each family member along with free housing and a generous car allowance. Critics point out that Hartz IV is the primary reason behind social ills such as illegal immigration, welfare fraud, large family sizes of the poor and misuse of the money for drug and gambling activity.
The general public, as well as sportsbook industry insiders, had a mixed reaction as to whether Hertz IV recipients should be permitted to bet on sports in Germany. An official at the Rhineland-Palatinate Gambling Company stated that the – ‘decision of the Cologne Regional Court applies only to North Rhine-Westphalia.’
In Koblenz, the Court decision did not sit well with lottery outlets, who decry the expectations of the Court as unrealistic and impossible to enforce – “We are very irritated by the unrealistic and discriminatory decision of the Cologne court,” the Association of German Lottery Resellers stated, “How are we to verify that a potential punter is a recipient of Hartz IV aid? Should we ask people if they are poor and unemployed before filling out the betting slip?”
Sports betting is very popular in Germany, especially when it comes to football. Under current German gambling laws, bookmakers are licensed and tightly regulated by the state-run monopoly OddBet. Germany is under increased pressure from the European Union to dissolve Oddbet and allow foreign sportsbooks to enter the German market. A major update of all German gambling laws is expected within a year in order for the country to comply with EU regulations.