German Minister Presidents reject major overhaul of State Treaty

The annual conference of the Minister Presidents of Germany’s 16 federal states has seen politicians agree to double the number of sports betting licences available, though no progress has been made on wider reforms of the country’s State Treaty on Gambling.

The German Lotto and Totoblock (DLTB) claims that the politicians have agreed to double the number of sports betting licences to forty, with this amendment likely to be signed into law in June.

However the lack of changes to the State Treaty on Gambling may see the country subject to infringement proceedings from the European Commission as a result of its failure to address the deficiencies in the regulations.

It was hoped by many that the meeting held Thursday (March 17th) would see the Minister Presidents adopt Hesse’s proposed legislation, which was published earlier this week and based on proposals put forward by the state’s Ministry of the Interior and Sports (HMDIS) in October last year.

This would have removed the 20-licence cap and allowed operators to offer casino and poker as well as sports betting. It would also have abolished the unconstitutional Glücksspielkollegium and replaced it with a new regulatory body based on the Ministry of Finance.

Despite a broad industry consensus in favour of the Hessian system, backed by a number of politicians and lawmakers, certain German states remain in favour of upholding the State Treaty in its current form, and are only willing to make minor changes.

These states seem to have prevailed, with the DLTB claiming that the number of licences to be issued under the state treaty will be doubled to 40, with 35 of the original applicants (for one of the twenty licences) likely to be approved.

The current DLTB chairs and LOTTO Hamburg co-CEOs Torsten Meinberg and Michael Heinrich welcomed the lack of major changes to the regulatory framework.

“The envisaged granting of 40 sports betting licenses and the provisional acceptance of the 35 companies that have successfully reached the second stage in the concession procedure, serves as a solution to the sports betting situation,” Heinrich commented.

“It is right that the states stick to the [existing] concessions model,” Meinberg added. “This is a clear rejection of proposals to further liberalise the sports betting market and thus a clear commitment to far-reaching player protection and ways to combat gambling addiction.”

This, however has provoked a strong response from two of Germany’s most vocal liberal gambling advocates, Schleswig Holstein politicians Hans-Jorn Arp and Wolfgang Kubicki.

“Once against the states have refused a viable model for gambling regulations,” chairman of the Free Democratic Party parliamentary group Kubicki said. “The Minister Presidents keep running into the same obstacles because they seem to have learned nothing. Only a total reboot [of the legislation] will send out the right signal.”

“It is clear that the Minister Presidents will fail again at the European Commission,” Christian Democratic Unionist parliamentary secretary Arp said. “In addition they will risk seeing frivolous infringement proceedings being launched against the Federal Republic because they cannot understand the realities of the market.”

“Even the Minister Presidents cannot ignore the numerous court decisions [against the State Treaty],” he continued. “We therefore call on [Schleswig Holstein Minister President] Torsten Albig to report on the positive example of the Schleswig Holstein Gambling Act in regulating the state’s market. Obviously he has failed to do so yet.”


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