Internet gaming look askance at German lottery plan

Media reports in Europe indicate a rising tide of suspicion and indignation among European betting groups at the possibility of German state-dominated lottery operators extending their reach with a "pan-European" venture that will offer multi-million Euro prizes competitive with Euro Millions.

Changes to German law this (January) month make such a project possible, and it is believed that the combined state lotteries are looking at an October 2009 launch. The many private betting companies trying to fight their way into the exclusive German market using EU arguments are reported to be indignant that the German lotteries are accessing the wider European market whilst continuing to insist on excluding foreign companies from offering the Germans more varied and competitive action.

The tentative branding "EuroJackpot" is believed to have been settled on for the new venture, which could market jackpots as high as Euro 90 million.

Going back to February 2008, some German lotteries were considering a more nationally diverse pan-European initiative. Klaus Sattler, spokesman for the Baden-Württemberg state lottery commission at the time, said: "It's true there are talks among several European lotteries on creating a joint, jackpot-oriented game." He would not, however, discuss the possibility that German state lotteries might be involved....or could decide to go it alone in the future.

The idea of a pan-European lottery is not a new one, The Guardian newspaper reported at the time. The Nordic countries - Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Finland and Estonia - became the first to form a lottery cooperative in 1993 with the Viking Lottery, which has a top prize which remains of the same value for all the countries involved, while the smaller prizes are decided locally.

The other collective, with which the new German venture will presumably compete, is the EuroMillions, a scheme set up by lottery companies Francaise des Jeux in France, Loterias y Apuestas del Estado in Spain and Camelot in Britain that started in early 2004. By the end of that year, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Switzerland had joined the three founding nations. Unlike the Viking Lottery, all prizes are of the same amount in each country.

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