Germany Sports Betting Licensing Grinds to a Halt

  • Darmstadt Administrative Court stopped process after legal challenge by Vierklee
  • Austrian sportsbook claimed licensing was discriminatory and showed lack of transparency
  • Full ruling still to be published, uncertainty over what will happen to applications 
  • Sports betting association DSWV says announcement is a “big blow” to members
judge using gavel and making a stop gesture with one hand
Applications for sports betting licenses have had to stop in Germany following a legal challenge by Austrian operator Vierklee. [Image:]

Accused of discrimination

With Germany almost in a position to start handing out sportsbook licenses, the Darmstadt Administrative Court has now called a halt to the whole process.

sportsbook licensing process was challenged by Austrian sports betting operator Vierklee

Although the full verdict has yet to be published, it is reported that Germany’s sportsbook licensing process was challenged by Austrian sports betting operator Vierklee. The company claimed it was discriminatory and that it was being conducted with a lack of transparency.

The Regional Council of Darmstadt, which is overseeing the applications from operators, has confirmed the ruling. It will not comment on whether it intends to appeal until the ruling has been published in full.

Another significant delay

Sports betting in Germany has been approved in principle since the State Treaty was drafted in 2012. However, the regulatory framework surrounding it has been slow with its implementation, to the frustration of operators.

Things were looking up recently as Hesse received 30 federal sports betting applications and Darmstadt Council put in place internet blocking orders to stop customers accessing illegal sites. The legal challenge from Vierklee is now set to put the whole process on hold.

With the country currently in lockdown over COVID-19, it may be a while before any gambling processes can resume.

“A big blow”

According to Deutscher Sportwettenverband (DSWV), Germany’s leading sportsbook operator body, the announcement is a “big blow” to its members.

once again denied access to a regulated market”

The association’s president, Mathias Dahms, added: “Sports betting providers in Germany are once again denied access to a regulated market and thus legal certainty. We hope that the authorities can continue, and quickly issue permits.”

If the current process is approved, it would mean that around 99% of the sports betting market operations in Germany would become legal.

New gambling laws extend to poker, casino

In March, Germany enacted new gambling laws that include the creation of a new regulatory agency, Glücksspielneuregulierungstaatsvertrag (GlüNeuRStv). If this decision is given the go-ahead by each state parliament and the European Union, it would make online poker and casino games legal as of July 1.

While there are strict limits to be put in place, such as slots being limited to a €1 ($1.08) stake per spin, it would be a step closer to more market-compliant gaming regulation.

For now, it is unclear how sports betting will continue ahead of the legal challenge, and there is no certainty that the new framework will meet the July deadline.

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