The German state of Schleswig-Holstein has introduced legislation to extend the expiry of its online gaming licenses until June 2021.
The bill would allow for a transitional phase for the next two years for its license regime, which was first enacted more than six years ago and is set to expire at the end of June. A new regulatory framework will then aimed to be established with other German states from mid-2021 onwards.
Schleswig-Holstein CDU parliamentary leader Hans-Jörn Arp said that the world had changed and the state must take its position.
“It is high time that we face reality: if the online gaming market is not regulated, it will function illegally,” said Arp. “In a time of the World Wide Web and globalisation, gaming operators do not stop at the gates of the Bundesrepublik.“The current regulations on sports betting are unrealistic and date from a time without smartphones and apps. It is therefore logical that the experimental clause for sports betting is extended until 30 June 2021 in order to allow for a modern gaming regulation, which corresponds with the behaviour of users, who want to place their bets digitally and mobile.”
Arp said that the state’s professional sports clubs, including handball clubs THW Kiel and Flensburg Handewitt, as well as football club Holstein Kiel, were at a competitive disadvantages and needed contributions from online operators in order to be able to continue to compete.
“The long term objective from 2021 must be to regulate online gaming – as has been the practice for a long time in Denmark, for example – by licensing and to therefore protect players from financial abuse and the risk of addiction, and to prevent them from turning to the black market,” said Arp.
Jan Marcus Rossa of the FDP Fraktion Schleswig-Holstein commented: “There may be serious arguments against gaming. But opponents must accept that a general ban cannot stop gaming. We are unable to stop gaming, just as we are unable to stop the consumption of alcohol and tobacco.
“We can, however, create a legal framework to monitor the risks and to counteract these in an early stage. We are pleased that the Jamaica coalition, with the support of the SSW, is now bringing about a law which ends the uncertainty which arose at the end 2018 for online gaming, and that we will have a legal basis to be able to continue Schleswig-Holstein’s path.
“This implies, however, that the other Länders will have to at least tolerate our approach. Signals from the state chancellery in this respect are overall positive and hopeful.”
The draft of the Third German State Treaty on Gambling was published earlier this week, with the prime ministers of Germany’s sixteen federal states due to vote on the proposal next week.
Schleswig-Holstein’s bill will be examined by the Landtag in a first reading at the end March.