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German government adopts legislation to combat match-fixing

The government said that sport plays a prominent role in German society and has great economic significance.

“Therefore it is necessary to fight sports betting fraud and manipulation by means of criminal law,” it explained. “Under the existing law this was not possible in all cases.”

A number of loopholes have previously been identified in the fight against match-fixing, which in some cases prevented betting-related fraud and manipulation from being properly prosecuted.

For example, an athlete could agree to manipulate the outcome of a contest in return for money without actually doing so, and therefore evade prosecution. Now, players will face prosecution, irrespective of whether they went ahead with their plan to fix the outcome of a match. 

The new criminal provisions cover both domestic and foreign sporting events.

The new legislation has been welcomed by Germany’s association of state lotteries, the Deutsche Lotto- und Totoblock (DLTB), which serves as one of the largest sources of funding for organised sport in the country.

“The new bill closes the existing legal loopholes that have previously prevented the prosecution of sports betting fraud and manipulation,” DLTB co-chief and LOTTO Hamburg managing director Torsten Meinberg commented. “As a long-term partner and promoter of sport we have been given further backing to protect its integrity.”

“With these new penal provisions important steps have been taken to ensure sport remains clean, in line with future changes to the Money Laundering Act and the considerations for implementing the EPAS Convention (Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport) of the EU,” Meinberg’s DLTB co-chief and fellow LOTTO Hamburg MD Michael Heinrich added.

“The negative side effects of gambling include sports betting fraud and the manipulation of the competitions,” he continued. “Many vendors have pushed into the lucrative German market, in particular without any consideration of the legal framework in the past, fighting for every customer.

“Legally defined duties of care are barely observed, if at all, and this opens the floodgates to illegal business practices. We welcome that the coalition government now wants to put a stop to this.”

The German Sports Betting Association (DSWV) also declared its support for the new legislation, but took exception to the DLTB's inference that private operators have failed to do enough to stamp out sport-related fraud.

"We are happy to see this bill enacted because it protects the integrity of sports and therefore sports betting providers as well," DSWV president Mathias Dahms said. "Together with sports, we as betting operators are the principal victims of match-fixing.

"In particular the DLTB should be aware of [the effects of sports-related fraud], since the only match-fixing case in Germany - the Hoyzer Affair in 2005 - was conducted systematically through Oddset, the sports betting arm of the DLTB companies, and created huge damage. Private providers, on the other hand, had very well-functioning risk management systems at that time."

Dahms also noted that the DSWV is part of an expert group set up by the German Interior Ministry to establish a national platform against betting manipulation. 

"The DLTB feels the breath of private competition down its neck and has tried to distinguish itself through polemic and misinformation," Dahms expained.

"We would appreciate it, however, to be able to work objectively on expanding Gambling regulation in Germany. There are clear common interests. To combat gambling and betting manipulation is one key goal."

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