EU to end the Sports Betting Monopoly

Rechtsanwalt Dr. Wulf Hambach

Hambach & Hambach Rechtsanwälte
Haimhauser Str. 1
D - 80802 München
Tel.: +49 89 389975-50
Fax: +49 89 389975-60
Several complaints (including from the European Betting Association, EBA) have been made against Germany as well as other countries for infringements of European Law.

The state monopoly on sports betting, which exists in Germany (and in the other member states concerned, e.g., Portugal) is considered to be in breach of the freedom of services guarantee contained in the EC Treaty due to the fact that the regulations mainly do not allow for any exceptions to the state monopoly, in Germany license applications by private sports betting providers are regularly rejected with reference to the state monopoly (however, in Germany the first applications for the interim toleration of private sports betting operators have been decided in favour of the providers).

The EU Commission is obliged under Art. 226 of the EC Treaty to deal with complaints raised against member states and so the sports betting/gambling complaints were discussed in an “infringements meeting” two weeks ago where around 1500 infringement complaints were raised.

These sports betting / gambling cases were not decided upon as it was considered that there were “outstanding questions” (e.g., where there is insufficient preparation, additional information is required or doubt is raised) and this issue has been deferred until mid-September at the earliest.

The market is being opened up as consumers are accessing services with more favourable returns, resulting in a legal vacuum in this area. There is technically little doubt but that the state monopoly in Germany is in breach of EC Treaty provisions but there are also several political considerations to be kept in mind – some member states are seeking a Treaty exemption for religious, ethical or financial reasons. On the other hand, freedom to provide services in the EU should exist except where there is legal justification to the contrary, e.g., Betting-Law-News Edition
the Treaty exemption on health grounds in Sweden where there is a state monopoly on

Given the political profile of the gaming issue, it is to be discussed by the EU Commission when there is more time available and so it is not on the agenda for the final meeting before the Summer break, which is today. There is certain to be several heated discussions before a decision is made on the issue of infringements, although it is likely that breach of Treaty proceedings will be instituted in the second half of the year.
Unfortunately, the commission didn’t follow the German saying, “don’t leave to tomorrow, that which you can sort today” on this issue.