RP Darmstadt continues licensing despite court verdict

1 May 2020

The Regional Council of Darmstadt (RP Darmstadt) is to continue processing sportsbook licence applications, despite a court ruling blocking it from actually issuing concessions to operators.

The Council is in the process of appealing the decision, issued by the Darmstadt Administrative Court on 1 April.

The challenge, brought by Austrian bookmaker Vierklee, saw the presiding judge accept its argument that the process was not being carried out in a transparent manner, and that it was skewed in favour of market incumbents.

The full ruling, issued days later, highlighted an opaque decision making process at RP Darmstadt, and questioned the role of the Glücksspielkollegium, a state regulatory body that has been roundly discredited as unconstitutional.

However, the judge left open the question of whether the decision to stop the licensing process ultimately marked the end of the third amended State Treaty on Gambling. Having come into effect from 1 January this year, it is to be replaced by the new, expansive regulatory framework, the Glücksspielneuregulierungstaatsvertrag, from 1 July 2021.

RP Darmstadt said that as it appeals the decision in the Kassel Administrative Court, it will continue to assess applications that have already been submitted. In February the Council revealed that as many as 50 operators had either applied or committed to applying for a sportsbook licence.

This, it said, would ensure the process would be able to restart should it prevail in its challenge.

The Council will also continue accepting new applications and all accompanying documentation. However, operators were warned that with it far from certain that its appeal will be upheld, it would not be liable for any costs related to the application.

It added that companies that had submitted a licence application would be able to continue operating in the state for the time being.

Next week's iGB webinar, Germany and its new regulatory regime – market opening or market closing? will examine the state of play, and the future of the German market. To find out more about this session on 6 May, and to register to attend, click here.