Court ruling puts German licences in jeopardy

14 May 2015

Germany may have to rerun its online sports betting licensing process after a court found that it violated several laws and European Union (EU) edicts.

The country began its process of allowing 20 licencees following the passage of the federal Interstate Gambling Treaty in 2012.

Those licencees were announced by the Hesse Ministry in September 2014, but were immediately appealed by some of the 21 unsuccessful applicants.

On Monday, the Administrative Court of Wiesbaden released its ruling on a challenge brought by, according to reports, an Austrian sports betting operator, finding that the licensing process had violated numerous laws, raised transparency concerns and violated EU edicts against restrictions on the freedom to provide services.

The Court’s ruling must still be ratified by the Higher Administrative Court but reports from Germany are already predicting the federal government will be required to restart the licensing process from the beginning.

The 20 federal licenses have yet to be formally issued due to appeals by failed applicants, who took issue not only with the chaotic licensing approach but also the artificial cap on the number of licenses.

The 20 chosen operators included German bookmakers Mybet, Sportwettern and Digibet as well as Ladbrokes, Betfair and Bwin.party.

German business news sources report that operators including bet365, Lottomatica, Tipico and BetVictor were among those to issue appeals against the Hesse Ministry’s ruling.