German state of Schleswig Holstein can now re-join the restrictive German Interstate Treaty on gambling after the European Commission has given the green light on Tuesday.
The province has previously issued 27 sports betting and online casino and poker licenses to major European companies - well over the total of 20 sports betting licenses allowed nationally under new federal German sports betting restrictions.
Although the European Commission, along with the Malta government, originally criticised both the Treaty and SH's draft law designed to overthrow the previous government's liberal and EC-approved betting laws as being non-compliant with EU principles, the de facto position appears to be that both the Treaty and SH's law amendments can go ahead.
The 15 other German states have already signed up to the Treaty which restricts the number of sports betting licence issues to 20, imposing a 5 percent tax rate on wagers, specifically banning online poker and casino action.
SH recently warned one licensee that its licence covered only activities within SH borders, giving an indication of how it intends to proceed once it has rejoined the Treaty. The reaction of those companies who have made considerable investments in acquiring licensing under the former, more liberal, SH law might not be friendly, and the possibility of expensive litigation could be expected.
Meanwhile, the German Federal High Court of Justice is studying the situation and will apparently soon rule on whether the German law and two different regulatory systems is desirable or compatible with European Union law.