German licensing: A light at the end of the tunnel?

The odyssey around German sports betting and gambling licenses has long since turned into a never-ending story. Does the recent approach of the Hessian state represent a silver lining on the horizon?

Since the procedure of granting 20 sports betting licenses by the Hessian Ministry of the Interior and Sports failed after a wave of lawsuits, there is still ambiguity for gaming companies in Germany. The only sure thing is, that the German state treaty on gambling still violates EU law and that the political tug-of-war leaves operators without long-term legal certainty.

Now, Hesse seems to be fed up. The coalition treaty of the Hessian state government (made up of the CDU and the Green party) contains a section that explicitly militates against the state treaty on gambling and demands the regulation of gambling in accordance with EU law.

Furthermore, an ultimatum is issued: If there is no satisfactory regulation by the end of 2019, Hesse will follow the example of Schleswig-Holstein and resign from the state treaty of gambling.

The timing is just right, since Germany is already put on the spot. The 5th EU regulation on money laundering that came into effect in June still has to be implemented into national law. This is necessary for an EU-wide fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. Since these issues play an important role for the gaming industry as well, this situation could be an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

It remains to be seen if the Hessian ultimatum generates enough political pressure to force a decision. A fast solution to the licensing chaos would be in the interest of operators and players alike.

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