German Court Deems Lottoland Website Blocking Unlawful

February 6, 2023
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A German appeals court has struck down an “obviously illegal” order by the federal gambling regulator to block internet access to Lottoland websites.

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A German appeals court has struck down an “obviously illegal” order by the federal gambling regulator to block internet access to Lottoland websites.

The Rhineland-Palatinate Higher Administrative Court in Koblenz last Tuesday (January 31) said the order by the Joint Gambling Authority of the States (GGL) to a telecoms provider to block access to domains of Gibraltar-based Lottoland had no legal basis.

The GGL had warned last July that it was preparing to block websites belonging to the lottery betting company before issuing the order on October 13.

The telecom provider and Lottoland’s subsequent legal challenge was rebuffed by the administrative court before being appealed to the Higher Administrative Court.

The blocking order has now been suspended, according to the appeals court’s press release on Wednesday.

Lottoland told VIXIO GamblingCompliance it had no comment on the appeals court’s ruling.

In its press release, the Higher Administrative Court said the “blocking order made against the applicant is obviously illegal” as it did not comply with the State Treaty on Gaming 2021, which came into force on July 1 that year.

Under the law, the GGL has powers to issue blocking orders to payment service providers and internet service providers in particular.

“However, these conditions are not met” in this case, the court said.

“The applicant is not a responsible service provider” as defined by the treaty, “so there is no need to decide whether the other requirements of the regulation for intervention against the applicant are met”, it said.

The court rejected the GGL’s argument that its actions were justified under the Telemedia Act (TMG).

Service providers are not responsible for third-party information if they do not initiate the material, do not actively link the third party to addressees, or do not select or change information, the court stated.

The appellants in this case “fulfilled these disclaimer requirements”, it said.

In addition, the blocking order could not be based in the “catch-all authorisation” of the treaty, according to which the GGL can issue blocking orders in individual cases, it said.

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