The Federal Administrative Court of Leipzig has confirmed that the ban of organizing and running online casinos, scratch card and poker games is constitutional, despite the ongoing impasse in the awarding of sports betting licences.
Two online gambling operators licensed in Malta and Gibraltar turned against gambling prohibition orders. They were offering online casino, scratch card and poker games. One of the operators also offered online sports betting without having a local license required by the State Treaty on Gambling. The Administrative Court of Baden-Württemberg upheld the plaintiff’s appeal against the dismissal of their actions and annulled the prohibitions.
However, the appeal by the defendant country was successful and the ban remained in place. The original court decision was based on lack of explicit description of online gambling types mentioned in the prohibition orders. As a result, the Administrative Court assumed that a prohibition order is arbitrary, unless it is based on a predetermined intervention concept.This decision has prompted critics of the State Treaty on Gambling as confirmation of the lack of effective regulatory controls for gambling in Germany, renewing calls for an overhaul of gambling laws.
As of today, organizing and distributing online gambling is prohibited and therefore should not be allowed in Germany. The only exception would be sports betting and online lotteries, however, it does not provide any changes to this case-law. This ban does not infringe the freedom to provide services within the EU. The European Court of Justice and the Federal Administrative Court remind of the former general prohibition because of the extra danger of the online gambling as opposed to the conventional gambling, such as unrestricted availability of the offer, comfort issues, lack of child protection. The limited legalization is supposed to help the regulators supervise the play instinct of the nation in orderly manner and to combat illegal online gambling on the black market. The provisions of the State Treaty on Gambling are sufficiently clear, precisely and unambiguously formulated, and do not discriminate gambling operators established in other Member States.