The new German sports betting licensing procedure that had started in January 2020 has been preliminary stopped by a decision of the Darmstadt administrative court (VG Darmstadt) of 1 April 2020. The court held the sports betting licensing procedure to not comply with the requirement of the German State Treaty on Gambling (Glücksspielstaatsvertrag) that sports betting licences are issued following a call for applications and the implementation of a transparent and non-discriminatory procedure.
In an update of 30 April, the authority (the Darmstadt Regional Council – DRC) confirms what VG Darmstadt has mentioned in its decision: The court had pointed out that sports betting operators that are currently active on the German market were sufficiently protected by the fact that, according to the licensing authority, they were treated during the ongoing licensing procedure as if they were legally active on the German market. For those who have so far refrained from entering the market and filing an application, the court had suggested that this decision should be reconsidered.
In addition, the DRC has announced that it had filed an appeal against the VG Darmstadt decision. Now the higher administrative court of Kassel has to decide over the appeal whether licences may be issued. This may also have an impact on the upcoming 2021 German gambling regulation that intends to continue the sports betting licensing regime.
We have been consulted by EGR on the current developments and are quoted as follows:
“The DRC confirmed the court’s decision that sports betting operators that are currently active on the German market are sufficiently protected by the fact that they are treated during the ongoing licensing proceeding as if they were legally active on the German market,” said DLA Piper Partner Stulz-Herrnstadt. “In other words, applying for a German sports betting licence would potentially legalise the German sports betting operation of the applicant.” “The German legislator is clear that there should be German sports betting licences (now and under the upcoming 2021 Treaty),” DLA Piper counsel Christoph Engelmann explained. “So if the current proceeding may be non-transparent and discriminatory – then a new proceeding has to be started, but the licensing requirements will not change substantially. Someone who applied for a licence in the current proceeding will be able to use the same documents (slightly updated) again in the next licensing proceeding.”