Schleswig-Holstein passes motion threatening withdrawal from State Treaty

The ruling coalition government of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein has said that it will only support the country's new State Treaty on Gambling if it provides effective protection to all gamblers, something which it views as impossible to achieve without legalising online poker and casino games.The coalition government made up of the CDU, FDP and Green parties, supported by the AfD and SSW parties, voted overwhelmingly in favour of rejecting the proposed State Treaty last week, with only the Schleswig-Holstein SPD party voting in favour of the status quo.

"This gaming treaty is not in compliance with European Union law and does not support our goals," said Schleswig-Holstein CDU parliamentary leader Hans-Jörn Arp.

FDP vice chairman Wolfgang Kubicki said: "As a result of the current total ban [on online gaming], we are faced with the absurd situation that we do not do anything to promote addiction prevention, but actually work against it.

"We will not have any influence until we push back the illegal, unregulated market and this will only be achieved by an attractive and legal offering."

The motion adopted by the Schleswig-Holstein parliament calls on the state government to engage with other states on further negotiations regarding the State Treaty due to come into force next year and to ensure that it gives Schleswig-Holstein the legal right to withdraw from the Treaty.

It also calls on the government to negotiate towards a new State Treaty that is viable, transparent and non-discriminatory. To do this it must preserve the lottery monopoly and remove the prohibition against online poker and casino games, the motion states, adding that concessions must only be awarded on a qualitative and not quantitative basis.

"We do not need bans, but effective player protection and prevention of gaming addiction," the Schleswig-Holstein Green party said in support of the motion. "German gaming policy has failed.

"The Green Party wants gaming legislation that is compliant with EC law, and which is not aimed at banning but at effective player protection and prevention of gaming addition. These details are to be discussed intensively in the coming month. One idea would be to pay more attention to the Danish model."

As the only party voting against the motion, the SPD accused the other parties of "destroying the cohesion of the Bundesländer".

It is estimated that online poker and casino games account for four fifths of the unregulated German gambling market, costing the country billions in potential tax revenue.

"Next month there will be a another conference of state prime ministers," Arp added. "Our own successful gaming legislation was replaced by a bad one and this new treaty must be legally sound. The current proposal is not.

"Sports betting should include live betting. The number of licenses cannot be restricted. And we should be realistic: nowadays, online poker is a fact, like casinos games – which are [currently] not controlled at all. We do not just say NO [to the State Treaty], we say YES but to a new joint way."

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