BUSINESS

Germany extends bet license deadline as federal court rethinks state treaty

TAGs: European Commission, Germany, Schleswig-Holstein, State Gambling Treaty

german-court-state-gambling-treatyThe December 20 deadline for companies to submit their German sports betting license applications has been extended to January 21, 2013. The German state of Hesse announced the latest extension, which came just days after the deadline was extended to Jan. 7, after officials claimed more time was necessary to allow prospective applicants to get their paperwork in order as well as to handle the volume of questions applicants had raised about the vetting process. So far, only myBet and Bwin.party digital entertainment have officially confirmed their interest in acquiring one of the 20 sports betting licenses up for grabs under the terms of the new state gambling treaty.

While the company holds persona non grata status in many jurisdictions, Bwin.party currently holds an online gambling license issued by the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, which, unlike the licenses to be issued under the federal treaty, allows operators the flexibility to offer online casino and poker games in addition to sports betting. Schleswig-Holstein originally declined to ratify the new federal treaty but changed its mind after it changed its state government this summer. The new government announced its intention to invalidate the previous government’s gaming treaty but has nonetheless continued to process pending license applications, and companies that have already received licenses have threatened to file compensation claims if said licenses are revoked.

In 2011, German courts determined that the state treaty’s sports-betting-only limitations did not fall afoul of European Union edicts, but the European Commission disagreed and gave Germany two years in which to come back with a different answer. On Thursday, an oral hearing on the matter was conducted at Germany’s Federal Court of Justice, during which the justices suggested that the current existence of two separate licensing regimes within Germany’s borders might well fall afoul of EU guidelines. It’s unclear if the repeal of the Schleswig-Holstein legislation would be sufficient to resolve this conundrum. The justices are expected to deliver their verdict on the matter by Jan. 24, 2013.

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