A German court has ruled that internet service providers are not required to block access to websites, even if those sites are considered illegal under German law. According to a report in Der Spiegel, the District Government of Düsseldorf had ordered ISPs like Deutsche Telekom AG to block access to two online sports betting sites (not identified in the article), but the Administrative Court of Cologne announced on Thursday that the service provider wasn’t responsible for the content of sites its customers chose to access. The ruling follows a similar finding in December, in which the Administrative Court of Düsseldorf ruled in favor of telecom operator Vodafone. The District government may appeal both decisions to the Supreme Administrative Court in Münster.
In France, the Council of State has upheld the monopolies enjoyed by Francaise des Jeux (FDJ) in retail sports betting and online lotteries, beating back respective challenges from Stanleybet and Bwin. The two non-French gaming outfits had sought to strip the state-owned FDJ of the preferential status it enjoys in these two betting channels, but the French government pulled the old ‘exclusivity is justified in order to protect consumers from the harmful effects of gambling with filthy foreigners’ schtick. So, au revoir, foreign pig-dogs.
Speaking of lotteries, Norwegian tax authorities have decided to launch an action that has just about as much chance of paying off as any scratch & win ticket you might find at your local 7-11. According to an article on Norwegian tabloid Dagens Naeringsliv, the taxmen have slapped Madeira Fjord — the Norwegian shell company set up in 2007 to facilitate dividend payments to Absolute Poker shareholders — with a NOK 180m (US $29.7m) tax debt in relation to undeclared revenue of NOK 430m. It’s reportedly the largest single issue ‘tax crime’ in the country’s history. Problem is, Madeira Fjord declared bankruptcy in May 2011, so it’s poor trustee lawyer Thomas Brandi who got sent the tax bill. Bjorn Blix, the lawyer who acted as Madeira Fjord’s advisor, would only say that he didn’t agree with the authorities’ decision, and that he didn’t want to make further comment. We bet.