Operator talk: Tipico’s Bayern deal at odds with outdated German gaming laws

Operator talk: Tipico’s Bayern deal at odds with outdated German gaming laws

Thursday, July 16, 2015 Totally Gaming
Christian Gruber wants the industry and regulators to progress together in Germany

Tipico Deutschland managing director Christian Gruber believes that Germany’s gaming laws are not just falling foul of European law, but that the country is also fighting a battle against the industry that already seems to be lost.

Gaming operator Tipico became a Platinum Partner of Bundesliga football champion Bayern Munich, adding to commercial links it already held with other major clubs at the start of this month, while just a few days later the European Commission (EC) demanded to know what steps Germany plans to take to eliminate its current sports-betting monopoly and its prohibitive stance on online gaming.

The disparity between the way Schleswig-Holstein-licensed Tipico and other companies are able to operate in Germany, and the way the country’s laws constrain them, is not lost on Gruber, who told TotallyGaming.com that the industry is now an accepted part of the nation’s culture.

“Tipico is a dedicated part of sports entertainment,” said Gruber, whose company also sponsors the Austrian Bundesliga and the DBU, Denmark’s football association. “The growing gambling market in Germany and our valuable partnerships with football clubs and football-related associations confirm these points.

“Much to our regret, the regulation process in Germany is more than behind the times. But we are in a sustainable dialogue with all valuable parties to reach a common goal: a clear legislative process, transparency and gambling laws in line with the market.”

German gaming law has been a mess for years, with online gambling currently deemed illegal by the federal Interstate Treaty on Gambling despite the Schleswig-Holstein state having awarded 23 six-year licenses that are only due to expire in 2018.

Tipico runs approximately 750 franchised betting shops under much-criticised legislation that partially ended the state monopoly, but the company was forced to appeal last year when it was controversially not chosen as one of 20 licensees under lumbering plans for a legal online sports betting market that have dragged on since 2012. 

Germany’s gambling laws were put under the microscope in early July by the European Union (EU) Pilot Scheme, which allows the EC to contact Member States about concerns where national law may be contradictory to EU law. The scheme provides member countries 10 weeks to reply, which means Germany needs to give an adequate reply about its gambling laws by September 7.

If the response is inadequate, Germany could face the European Court of Justice, where it is possible they will be fined or hit by other penalties, however Gruber is not expecting changes to take place any time soon.

“Obviously, the EC is set to turn up the pressure on Germany due its monopoly on the gambling market,” Gruber said. “Referring to experts on gambling law, it seems the whole regulation process in Germany might last for some time again.

“As a respectable gambling provider and top player in the German market, Tipico favours clear legal regulations. Tipico received a license in Schleswig-Holstein and seeks to obtain similar, strict licenses in the other German federal states as well.

“Most of the German Administration Courts share our view on the current licensing procedure: there is a lack of transparency and there are conceptual deficits. The last rulings confirm our opinion that the licensing system as hitherto practiced by the authority has failed.”

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