Thursday, April 06, 2006
Bavaria to close illegal bookmaker shops

The Finance Minister of the German state Bavaria announced yesterday a package of measures to comply with the Federal Supreme Court decision last week. Although many bookmakers claimed victory after the court ruling, they now have to close immediately. The measure would also cover non-terrestrial bookmakers, for example those with online licenses from Malta and former East Germany.

According to the Supreme Court, state monopolies are legitimate, but only if they aim to limit gaming. It gave a few criteria that public policies would have to meet to restrict gaming, including restrictions on advertising, product offering and sale of betting services.

In a gathering last week, the heads of the German states already agreed that the proper response to the legal verdict was to restrict gaming and close the illegal bookmakers. Bavaria is one of the first to announce concrete steps. Other measures announced by Bavaria include a stop of TV advertising by the state betting monopoly, a stop on online betting accounts and a warning against gaming addiction on betting tickets.

The German states have been given until end of 2007 by the Court to adjust their gaming laws and policies. It will be interesting to see how each individual state interprets the ruling and whether the federal government is not going to get involved, in particular in relation to cross-border forms of betting like websites.