German gambling ban sees one state "breaking step"

One state could be about to break step on the Interstate Treaty

The German state of Schleswig-Holstein could be about to break step with the 15 other German states with whom it signed the German Interstate Treaty on Gambling last year (see previous InfoPowa reports).

At the time, it was reported that fiscal imperatives were behind the Schleswig-Holstein decision to join the other states in the ban, despite its previous preference for a wider licensing system.

The initial signs of a possible break occurred last week following political moves that saw agreement between the ruling coalition Christian-Democratic Party (CDU) and the Liberal Party (FDP) in the region, and a statement calling for an end to the Treaty in favour of a regulatory regime more in keeping with European Union requirements for the free movement of goods and services.

Although this is unlikely to go down well due to the state-monopolised nature of the German gambling market, it would relieve determined pressure from the European Commission and trade bodies like EGBA as well as online gambling companies that see the German exclusionary policy as contrary to the principles of the European Union.

Jürgen Koppelin, the leader of the Schleswig-Holstein coalition, made a not-so-veiled threat that if the other parties to the German Treaty found that agreement on switching to a new regulatory system was impossible, the coalition would move toward a change that would see an intrastate licensing system.

Despite being currently in the minority, the Schleswig-Holstein development, which has the potential to liberate both land and online gambling from monopolistic dominance, will concern other signatories to the Treaty. The arrangement is due to expire in January 2012, and in the absence of full compliance by all 16 states, a renewal could be in jeopardy.

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