Compromise German Agreement Would Relax Sports-Betting Restrictions

November 16, 2022
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A draft compromise agreement to end a series of legal battles over sports-betting licences in Germany would loosen restrictions on deposit limits and kinds of bets for those licensees who jump aboard, according to German gambling lawyers.

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A draft compromise agreement to end a series of legal battles over sports-betting licences in Germany would loosen restrictions on deposit limits and kinds of bets for those licensees who jump aboard, according to German gambling lawyers.

A proposed settlement that might be agreed as early as Thursday (November 17) would greatly increase the number of permitted bets on particular sports, from 13 to about 49, said Frieder Backu, a partner with Witzel, Erb, Backu law firm.

“That’s a big difference in being competitive,” said MELCHERS attorney Joerg Hofmann. “That’s an incentive to sign.”

The compromise, negotiated by two sports-betting companies of the almost three dozen that have sued, would also mean that those operators who implemented deposit limits by September would not be declared “unreliable”, Backu said.

An “unreliable” rating would diminish the chances of an operator obtaining a licence or licence renewal.

A current €1,000 deposit limit could be lifted for some players who qualify for an increase in spending with automatic databases, rather than only with manual submissions, Backu said.

He and others were speaking on a panel at the Malta SiGMA 2022 conference on Tuesday.

Although the proposed agreement may be reached on Thursday, it is not clear how and when it will be publicised, Backu said.

The proposed settlement follows restrictions announced early this year that prompted nearly every sports-betting licensee to sue the current sports-betting licensing body, the Darmstadt Regional Council.

The current list not only excludes bets on red and yellow cards in football, but also popular bets such as second-tier Dutch and Austrian football leagues and many women’s professional leagues, executives have said.

The agreement would settle some issues, but not those involving restrictions on bonuses and rebates, so therefore court cases will continue, Backu said.

There are 34 licensees for sports betting and 14 for online slots.

There are so far no online poker licensees but there are a number of companies that are in limbo, which have been approved but have not yet been able to post their required security deposits or guarantees, said Yannick Skulski, a lawyer with Hambach & Hambach.

Lawyers said the settlement, negotiated by two of the plaintiff licensees, will be offered to all licensees.

The terms might be not enough to satisfy all licence holders, but they remove the uncertainty of taking the issues to court to an unknown outcome, Backu said.

“They will know what is legal and what is not,” Backu said.

One big hurdle still looms.

All nationwide German sports-betting licences expire at the end of the year, so renewals must be approved by regulators, including the Gambling Committee, the group of regulators from the 16 German states that oversees gambling decisions until at least the end of this year.

Non-renewal would mean an operator would face the prospect of having to close their German sports-betting operations.

On January 1, the Joint Gaming Authority of the Federal States (GGL) takes over regulation of sports betting and online slots and poker.

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