|An administrative court in Germany voiced concerns last week that the recently passed German ban on online gambling may violate European Union laws.|
The Verwaltungsgericht of Schleswig was hearing a lawsuit filed by a Gibraltar-based online sportsbetting site and decided to refer questions relating to European law in the context of the new monopoly imposed by the ban to the European Court of Justice. The site, represented by the well known Hambach and Hambach law firm, filed the case as a way to receive acknowledgement of its European license for the German Federal State of Schleswig-Holstein under the European freedom of providing services.
“The referral to the European Court of Justice is a consistent and correct decision by the Verwaltungsgericht of Schleswig and is definitely in our client's best interests,” said Wulf Hambach, a lawyer for the plaintiff.
According to the European Court of Justice, the freedom to provide services also applies for offers provided in the gambling market. However, restrictions to this freedom are possible provided they are aimed at pursuing general interest objectives and are suitable and proportionate.
In defending he ban, the Federal State of Schleswig-Holstein stated that it was combating gambling addiction and protecting minors under the objectives stipulated in the State Treaty on Gambling.
However, the private sportsbetting company argued that the State Treaty on Gambling is intended to safeguard the Federal States' fiscal interests and, therefore, cannot create a consistent and systematic regulation. It stated that the area of slot machines, which is especially relevant regarding addiction issues, is not affected by the new regulation.
'Even when looking at the area of sportsbetting in isolation, the regulation lacks consistence, as online horse race betting continues to be liberalised under German Federal legislation,' read the argument.