German Court Thrills Betting Industry By Putting Bet Curbs On Hold

June 10, 2022
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A German court has delivered an interim ruling stopping the current sports-betting regulator, the Darmstadt Regional Council, from enforcing what the gambling industry considers a cripplingly small list of permitted live, pre-match or in-play, bets.

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A German court has delivered an interim ruling stopping the current sports-betting regulator, the Darmstadt Regional Council, from enforcing what the gambling industry considers a cripplingly small list of permitted live, pre-match or in-play, bets.

In what one executive called “quite a big success” for the German betting industry, a Darmstadt administrative court judge on Wednesday (June 8) responded to a flock of court suits by which licensees are fighting restrictions on live bets by ordering those restrictions held at bay until a full hearing can be held, according to two industry executives.

If applied, the restrictions would cost sports-betting licensees 60 to 70 percent of their in-play business, said Mathias Dahms, president of the German Sports Betting Association (DSWV), who applauded the ruling at SBC's Betting on Sports Europe conference in London, which ended on Thursday.

Although the lawsuits are targeted at the Darmstadt Regional Council as the sports-betting regulator, they were indirectly aimed at the Gambling Committee, the 16-member council which oversees the regional council’s licensing decisions.

“If they would have known this list would have cost us 60-70 percent of our business, they wouldn’t have done this, but they didn’t talk to us,” Dahms said.

The list excludes such popular bets as secondary leagues in Austria and the Netherlands, all “friendly” international football matches not involving Germany and many key women’s professional leagues, Dahms said during a break in the conference.

The DSWV will now seek talks with the Gambling Committee in hopes of reaching a compromise acceptable to all sides, he said.

“It’s better to talk than shoot,” Dahms said. “A court case is shooting. We wish they would have consulted us before.”

In February, the list of permitted betting types was added as an amendment to betting licences issued by Darmstadt as “ancillary conditions”, said attorney Joerg Hofmann of MELCHERS law firm.

To add new bets beyond that list, licensees would have to apply to the council for permission, which would have triggered a few thousand requests, which the court considered “not feasible” to accomplish in a timely fashion, Hofmann said.

An oral hearing will be held in August, with a full hearing in the future, he said.

The Darmstadt ruling is not yet public, but Hofmann said he has seen a copy of the ruling as some of his firm’s clients are plaintiffs.

The court ruling in favour of sports-betting plaintiffs this week is a small tonic to a recent flood of bad news for German online gambling companies.

The planned German “super-regulator”, the Joint Gaming Authority for the Federal States (GGL), gains enforcement powers from July 1, and full authority from January.

But it has already confirmed that it will take a strict stance on enforcing virtual slots and poker licensing from July 1, even though only one of about 58 applicants for online slots licences has been approved so far.

That statement leaves applicants wondering whether they should shut their virtual slots or poker offerings after July 1 until they are granted a licence.

The Darmstadt Regional Council has confirmed that it has been hit with more than 100 lawsuits over the restrictive measures that come with a sports-betting licence, including the tight list of permitted live bets.

The council is set to lose its authority over sports betting to the GGL from January 1.

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