On September 8, the European Court of Justice, in a case involving Carmen Media, ruled that the country’s sports betting monopoly was unlawful. Now, a month on, German gambling laws have been tuned on their head, and confusion reigns.
The problem is that German gambling laws are inconsistent. A monopoly on sports betting is enforced, ostensibly for the sake of combating gambling addiction, but according to EU regulations this excuse for maintaining a gambling monopoly is only valid if the monopoly extends to all forms gambling in a country. Because many games of chance in Germany do not fall under the control of the state monopoly, the EJC ruled that the Germany’s gambling laws were in violation of EU laws.
Soon after the court’s decision was announced, news spread quickly across the country’s media platforms, announcing that the sports betting monopoly was finished, or even that sports betting in Germany is now fully legal. These sensationalist headlines soon died down, but the state of internet betting in Germany is still not clear, and no specific changes have been made.
The decision by the EJC regarding German gambling monopolies sent a clear message questioning the German gambling monopoly, but did not give any guidelines about where to go from here. German officials are quickly moving to clarify the situation, because as long as the country’s laws regarding sports betting are ill-defined, there is no precedent for combating illegal gambling.
New laws are now being drafted to govern bet shops, casinos, and online gambling sites in Germany. This will take months, and changes will not come into effect until well into 2011. What effect the new regulations may have on current license holders is not yet clear.