Hesse reiterates breakaway threat over gambling law overhaul

9 September 2019

Hesse has repeated its threat to break away from Germany’s other 15 federal states and develop its own regulatory framework for gambling should lawmakers fail to overhaul the country’s laws by 2021.

The state’s Minister for the Interior Peter Beuth warned that should the state’s calls for an end to the prohibition on in-play wagering and online casino go unheeded, it would cease working toward a federal model.

The Regional Council of Darmstadt is preparing to begin processing federal sports betting licence applications from January 2020. Beuth said this was being done to break the legal impasse and channel players away from illegal offerings.

“The limitation to 20 licences can finally be removed, and the Hessian demand for a qualitative licensing process has been taken into account,” Beuth said. “Only with a legal offering can we prevent players drifting towards the black market, and at the same time enforce the important goals of addiction prevention and he protection of minors."

But he added that further changes to regulations were necessary to properly kick-start the regulation of the market.

The third amended State Treaty on Gambling, signed by the heads of government in March, expires on 30 June, 2021, with the intention of having a new framework agreed upon and implemented from that date.

"Hesse has been working for years to create the basis for a gambling regulatory model that makes playing in the legal market attractive,” Beuth said.

“It makes no sense to completely regulate the interests of the players. For example, a blanket ban on in-play betting is not realistic. Similarly, online casino games should be allowed because only legal games can be effectively regulated.”

Beuth said that for this to be possible, a new federal regulatory body,which could act as the central licensing and enforcement authority for the market, must be created, as well as an enhanced self-exclusion system.

However he added that Hesse would only continue to work towards the federal framework if such changes were accepted.

"If our other amendments remain unheeded, Hesse will have to introduce its own gambling laws,” he said. “In 2021, a simple 'keep it up’ will not be supported by us,” he explained. “If necessary, we will create our own state legislation.”

In related news, Hesse has proposed an amendment to its state gambling laws to increase the share of tax revenue granted to support voluntary work for sports, education and youth initiatives in the state. Associations supported by voluntary workers are set to see their funding increase by 10% a year, which Beuth described as a good investment in sports and volunteering.