Austrian online gambling group Bwin Interactive Entertainment has lost a court bid that would have overturned a 2007 prohibition against offering Internet gambling to customers in the German state of Lower Saxony.
The Vienna-based firm was on the losing end of a similar decision earlier this month for North Rhine-Westphalia and has been entangled in numerous lawsuits over online gambling since the nation's 16 states reinstated a collective ban on Internet betting in January, a move Bwin asserts is against European Union laws.
However, the administrative court in Hanover, the capital of Lower Saxony, threw out Bwin's action against the state government but ruled that it may appeal because German courts have issued disparate rulings on the issue.
“We have no doubt that the German state monopoly on Internet betting is legal and have ruled so several times,” said Judge Werner Reccius in his decision.
”This ruling only applies in Lower Saxony but if it prompts Bwin to shut down its websites in all of Germany, this would only reflect what the law actually is.”
“What the court is contemplating here is putting Bwin out of business and it's negating my client's constitutional right to freely choose a profession,'' said Clemens Weidemann of the firm Gleiss Lutz, a lawyer acting for Bwin.
“This is against what top German and European courts have held.”
“This ruling does not correspond to European Union law,” said Kevin O’Neil, a spokesperson for Bwin.
“We will appeal the ruling in Lower Saxony and are confident that European Union law will be adhered in the end.”