The ultimate fate of Germany’s online sports betting licensing regime may not come until September, but one of the country’s top political figures has already thrown in the towel.
Germany announced the 20 lucky recipients of its marathon online sports betting licensing derby last September, but court challenges by unsuccessful applicants have kept those licenses locked in the desk drawer of the Hesse Ministry of the Interior and Sport.
Last month, the Administrative Court of Wiesbaden ruled that the licensing process had been a procedural nightmare, lacked transparency and likely breached European Union rules on the freedom to provide services. The Administrative Court of Frankfurt echoed this ruling earlier this month.
On Monday, Peter Beuth (pictured), who heads the ministry that oversaw the licensing process, wrote an op-ed in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in which he admitted that the process had been botched. Beuth said the debacle of the past three years demonstrated the need for an “urgent” overhaul of the federal Interstate Gambling Treaty, which he described as a “dead end” and incapable of achieving its objectives.
Beuth acknowledged that around 80 of the estimated 100 operators currently serving the German market had applied for the 20 licenses, and 39 of these applicants were already paying taxes on their German betting revenue. Beuth said the arbitrary decision to cap the number of licenses at 20 had left the government vulnerable to the types of court setbacks it has witnessed in recent months.
Should Beuth’s public shaming not suffice, the Court of Justice for the European Union (CJEU) may put the final nail in the treaty’s coffin. The CJEU is currently weighing the matter after one of the German courts requested an opinion, which the CJEU is expected to deliver on September 17. With all signs pointing to thumbs down, Germany will have little choice but to head back to the drawing board.