In a staggering blanket vote, all 16 German states recently approved the new German gambling accord that will prohibit all forms of online gambling in the country. This new law will come into effect on January 1st 2008 and will present a great obstacle for Germany’s online poker players.
The motivation backing this vote has been in question by gaming companies based in Germany and they are gearing up to battle the German government. The government seems to be making moves towards monopolizing gambling in the country effectively putting all gambling action in Germany in the power of the state. Germany already holds a full monopoly over the state lotteries as well as most other forms of gambling.
The accord that was signed has been viewed by many as a flagrant departure from EU statutes concerning the nature of gambling in the EU. One of the law firms preparing to take the German government to the EU courts is Hambach and Hambach, which represents twenty of the world’s largest betting companies.
Hambach released a statement saying, “The accord breaches EU law because it excludes foreign betting companies with EU licenses from the German market."
In fact, according to an article published by Die Welt in Germany, there are lawyers in Germany that are expecting all 3,000 of Germany’s betting companies to take legal action against this new legislation. Germany’s government can expect a fierce battle in the upcoming days, months and possibly even years.
Tipp24’s chairman and founder Jens Schumann will be one of the soldiers preparing to battle the German state, “The action taken by the states in this case is another example of how politics interferes in the market economy in a biased manner under the guise of maintaining order. Successful companies in the sphere of state lotteries are to be eliminated through the argument that this will protect the population from gambling addiction. Everyday you can see how seriously the state is really taking the issue by looking at betting outlets, casinos and amusement arcades, which continue to face no advertising restrictions.”
Passing legislation such as this in Germany seems to be void of even an iota of rationality. For months the US has been battling online gaming companies in light of the UIGEA legislation. They have already been forced to make massive concessions to Europe, Japan, Australia and Canada. Other countries that were affected by the US legislation such as Antigua and Barbados are not giving up on receiving their fair share of concessions as well. The WTO deemed the UIGEA bill as completely illegal and these small countries have the power to cause the US a massive headache within the WTO courts until the US will concede to them.
Who knows what the German states were thinking when they passed this legislation. The US model should have shown them that such bans do not go over well with big businesses as well as international courts. Online betting in Germany will not go down without a fight. These companies’ entire livelihood relies on the survival of the online gambling industry. Whatever the outcome, the poker community can expect an interesting and drawn out battle. Germany’s online gaming companies will fight tooth and nail because everybody knows the toughest enemy to defeat is the one that has everything to lose.