Early discussion on internet gambling in Germany

Liberalised German market has tremendous potential, say execs.

In what could turn out to be a milestone event, politicians and a diversity of interested parties met in Kiel, Germany recently to exchange ideas on a new State Treaty which might permit the existing monopolies to hold on to lucrative lotteries but also benefit from the rewards of a liberalised and strictly regulated market.

Among the 80 delegates involved in the discussions were politicians, lottery and betting companies, sports associations, academia, media and advertising industry representatives.

The publication isa-guide.de reports that the consultation was organised as a hearing for the formulation of a Schleswig-Holstein draft for a new State Treaty to replace the former exclusive agreement between German states, which expires in 2011.

The CDU parliamentary leader Christian von Boetticher and his colleague Wolfgang Kubicki FDP observed that it was not too early to commence a serious debate on the next treaty, and that such a discussion should be open-minded in order to effectively examine all the possibilities, including the repeal of the present internet gambling bans.

Recent rulings by the European Court of Justice and developments in other European nations, together with a Deloitte survey that showed government revenues from gambling have been declining, were seen as motivation for a new approach to the legislation and future treaties.

A representative from Pokerstars said there was significant potential for online poker in Germany, which he estimated could be as high as Euro 7.8 billion in revenues, given time and a sensible regulatory environment.

Taking a more current view, Dr. Michael Schmid, a consultant with Gold Media, said that a study by his company put the value of the unregulated, foreign-based online casino market in Germany at Euro 1.5 billion – a quarter of the total market.

Norman Faber, a German lottery executive, warned that if the current monopolistic system was allowed to continue it could ultimately put at risk tens of thousands of jobs and the survival of many businesses in Germany.

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