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EC Criticizes Schleswig-Holstein’s Plans to Scrap Progressive Legislation

The European Commission has dampened Schleswig-Holstein’s hopes of repealing progressive regional legislation in favor of the country’s restrictive Federal State Treaty.

While lawmakers were hoping to vote this week, the EC’s opinion, which has been echoed by regulators in Malta and the United Kingdom, delays Schleswig-Holstein’s decision to revoke current legislation for another month. 

Schleswig-Holstein’s new coalition government has promised to return to the country’s Federal State Treaty. Earlier this year, the region’s Sozialdemokratisches Partei (SDP) said: 

“We are beginning to clear the minefield in the German gambling legislation left by our predecessors in Schleswig-Holstein. We will take all the time we need [to change the existing legal framework]. But in the end, Schleswig-Holstein will join the other 15 states under a common gambling law.”

Operators and lobbyists have criticized the proposed move by Germany’s northernmost Länder towards the Federal State Treaty, which limits regulated online gambling to just 20 sports betting licenses.

“Schleswig-Holstein’s proposed move from a sustainable and EU-compliant licensing system to an inconsistent and unjustifiably restrictive regime would be a significant step backwards, one that the European Commission cannot approve,” said Sigrid Ligne, secretary general of the European Gaming and Betting Association

“The European Commission’s detailed opinion against Schleswig-Holstein sends a clear message that Member States are no longer going to be allowed to impose gaming regulations that fail to meet the tests set by the CJEU,” she added.

In October, the European Commission pledged to crack down on regulatory regimes not in line with EU law. Leading operators have backed the call for compliance, urging EC Commissioner Michel Barnier to take action in a letter signed by 14 executives.

Betfair withdrew from the German market early last month. The company said that the continuation of its exchange business was “impossible” due to the restrictive regulations. Bwin.party, which generates 25% of its revenues from Germany, has also been critical. Chief executive Norbert Teufelberger, however, said in November, “We anticipate we will continue to operate casino and poker [in Germany] as we believe we have a legal right to do so.”

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