Saxony-Anhalt finance minister urges German states to ratify new gambling treaty

Saxony-Anhalt finance minister Andre Schröder has appealed to the parliaments of Germany's fifteen other states to ratify the country's revised State Treaty on Gambling as soon as possible.

Schröder said that community and consumer protection were central aspects of the revised Treaty and warned of heightened risk in the event that the states fail to ratify the legislation.

"The minister-presidents of all the federal states have agreed on changes to the gaming contract," he said. "This was a month-long process of arguments and compromise.

"Sachsen-Anhalt is in favour of this gaming agreement with its amendments. It is now important to ensure it is ratified. If it is not ratified in individual states, these regulations cannot be applied nationwide. This would mean the existing regulations simply continue."

German gambling regulations have regularly been found wanting by the European Commission, with the current 2012 Treaty facing numerous legal challenges which have prevented a single license from being issued.

Under the revised Treaty that is due to come into force on January 1st, 2018, the state of Saxony-Anhalt will assume responsibility for the licensing process on behalf of all German states. However, the Treaty can only come into force if it is adopted by all 16 states.

The revised Treaty allows for an unlimited number of sportsbook licences while prohibiting online casino and poker games. This is contrast to the regime employed in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, where each product is licensed and regulated. 

Schleswig-Holstein lawmakers also claim to have the support of their counterparts in Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia for new gambling legislation based on the Schleswig-Holstein model.

Echoing Schröder's call, however, Deutsche Lotto- und Totoblock (DLTB) president Torsten Meinberg said that any delay in adopting the revised State Treaty would only serve to harm players.

"If the treaty is not ratified, sports betting will remain grey and illegal gambling cannot be effectively controlled," Meinberg said. "Foreign gamblers without a German license attack the public-oriented gambling companies by plagiarising their offerings, and ignoring consumer protection requirements. Rapid action is required."

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