The fact that German sports betting and online slot game regulators can currently be overruled in licensing decisions by the 16-member Gambling Committee is “chaotic and stupid”, a gambling attorney has said.
Hesse’s Darmstadt Regional Council, which is reviewing online sports-betting applications, and the Saxony-Anhalt administrative office, which is reviewing online slots and poker applications, can have their decisions delayed or overruled by the Glücksspielkollegium (Gambling Committee), which has representatives from all 16 German states.
This means regulators “cannot make a single decision on their own”, said Jörg Hofmann of MELCHERS law firm. “That is absolutely chaotic and stupid. But that is the German system.”
Hofmann said he was not aware of other gambling regulators who can be overruled on licensing decisions by a committee, citing the autonomy of the UK’s Gambling Commission.
He was speaking at Eventus International’s iGaming Germany conference in Berlin on Tuesday (May 24), which continues today.
But the situation should improve soon. A new “super regulator”, the Joint Gaming Authority of the Federal States (GGL), will take authority of gambling issues in stages from July 1 and January 1, 2023.
The federal states will be included in the new Saxony-Anhalt-based regulator’s administrative board, but will not have the same veto power, Hofmann said.
The Darmstadt council has been working since January 2020 and has approved about 36 sports-betting licences.
The Saxony-Anhalt administrative office has been reviewing virtual slots and poker applications since July 2021 as part of its interim role while the GGL gears up to assume authority.
But the office has approved only one slots licence since then, a Gauselmann subsidiary, although there have been about 56 applications filed for the slots licences.
Although the authority has said that many applications are incomplete and require fixing, Hofmann and others blame delays on the Gambling Committee.
It is also positive that a period of evaluation of the impact of the 16-state gambling treaty is starting soon, with issues including the treaty’s effect on channelisation, he said.
It “can’t get worse”, Hofmann said.
A spokesman for the Darmstadt council has confirmed that it has been sued more than 100 times by the three dozen sports-betting licensees over provisions in the gambling treaty.
Issues include the restricted menu of permitted bets, which are only about 60 percent of the typical operators’ offerings, Hofmann said.
Hesse interior minister Peter Beuth, perhaps stung by all the lawsuits, criticised the Gambling Committee in a speech last month to the German Sports Betting Association.
Although the goal of the German states was to create “contemporary, coherent regulation” focused on player protection, that goal has been “undermined in many places” by the Gambling Committee, he said.
"This was a great opportunity wasted,” he told the industry officials, according to games&business magazine. “This contradicts the goal of a high degree of channelling."