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Schleswig-Holstein Passes Gambling Legislation

On August 17, Schleswig-Holstein, which received approval from the European Commission for its online gambling legislation in May, announced that it would make a decision regarding its proposal by September at the earliest. Schleswig-Holstein had scheduled a vote for August 24. Ahead of further negotiations with Germany’s other 15 Länder, however, lawmakers from the region indicated that they wanted a new State Gambling Treaty that would be ratified by all 16 federal states.

Despite that move last month, Schleswig-Holstein has gone ahead and passed its own gambling legislation today. The bill legalises poker and casinos games with the exception of roulette, blackjack and baccarat. Sports betting is also approved—the first time that it has been regulated in the EU member state—and there are no restrictive proposals on the number of licenses issued. The move puts pressure on the country’s other 15 Länder to make unified changes to the State Gambling Treaty. Current legislation, under which the state holds a monopoly on sports betting and lotteries, is due to expire on January 1, 2012.    

In a statement Betfair said: “Schleswig Holstein’s new online gambling treaty is a welcome piece of legislation geared towards creating a genuinely open, transparent and responsible online gambling market in Germany. We are pleased that it has today passed through the State Parliament and we look forward to applying for a licence to operate there. We are now hopeful that the other 15 German States will make the required amendments to their proposed State Treaty, in order to bring it into line with EU law and with the law passed in Schleswig Holstein today.”

The European Commission issued an opinion this summer against the proposal backed by Germany’s other 15 Länder, which calls for a restrictive opening (only seven licenses) of online sports betting based on a hefty 16.67% turnover tax. According to reports, state leaders are expected to agree upon a new State Gambling Treaty by December 16. Changes need to be made. According to data published in eGaming Review, H2 Gambling Capital projects that under current proposals a regulated market in Germany would only capture 7% of total online gambling activity.

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