The Hamburg Ministry of the Interior and Sport has filed complaints against three iGaming operators – Tipico, Bet3000 and Bwin.
According to the Ministry, the trio have violated Germany’s near-total ban on online casino games.
The Hamburg Public Prosecutor will now determine whether or not the complaints are worth being taken further.
While the Public Prosecutor did not name the operators in question, local media has reported that it is the three mentioned in the first paragraph.
Will the complaints be pursued further?
GVC, owner of Bwin, said that the Ministry’s filing has “no merit or legal standing”.
Tipico has stated that, as a matter of principle, it will not comment on alleged filings or injunctions. However, they also believe that the ban on online casino gaming in the current State Treaty on Gambling is a violation of EU laws.
Schleswig-Holstein is the only state in Germany currently permitted to offer this vertical.
Bwin, Tipico and Bet3000 all have a long-standing presence in Germany’s gambling market. Tipico is partnered with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, while Bet3000 – based in Malta – sponsors 1860 Munich. Meanwhile, Bwin sponsors Borussia Dortmund and was a shirt sponsor for Werder Bremen in the 2000s.
Tipico also sponsors the Austrian Bundesliga, which is Austria’s top footballing division.
Hamburg has opposed the opening up of the German market
The State of Hamburg covers Germany’s second-largest city and is home to over 1.8 million people. It has been against opening private operators to the country’s gambling market for a while.
The state has been accused by Renatus Zilles of illegally holding back the progress of iGaming in the country. Zilles, who is the Chair of Deutscher Verband für Telekommunikation und Medien, was critical of other states for doing the same. These include Niedersachsen, Bremen, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
He said the following.
“We can no longer afford this permanent blockade, because it only helps illegal operators from Asia and the Caribbean, who are not interested in protecting children, consumer protection or addiction prevention and also pay no taxes.
“That cannot be the intention of politicians.”
Online gambling legislation in Germany
In March, the fourth State Treaty was approved in the country and passed onto the European Commission for approval.
It had been planned that the treaty’s third edition would come into force from the beginning of this year, lasting until July 2021. However, the licensing process was halted. This was due to a legal challenge from Vierklee, an operator based in neighbouring Austria.
Vierklee argued that the licensing process was in disproportionate favour of market incumbents. Moreover, they believed that new applicants received little transparency.
Hesse’s Regional Council of Darmstadt was responsible for handling the licensing process. It had planned to appeal and keep applications moving forward. However, it is prohibited from certifying any business until the court process is over.