Germany’s schizoid attitude to online casino regulation has led to criminal complaints filed against three gambling operators, including GVC Holdings Bwin Company.

On Tuesday 23, German media outlets Süddeutscher Zeitung and NDR reported that the Hamburg Ministry of the Interior & Sport had filed complaints with the state’s public prosecutor against Bwin, German firm Tipico and IBA Entertainment’s Malta-licensed Bet3000 firm. The complaints reportedly stress on the brands’ online casino offering.

Germany’s 16 states have agreed on a new online gambling framework that will allow online casino and poker offerings in addition to sports betting as of 1st July, 2021. However, there is a major difference among the states as to what route should be taken against online casino providers who continue to accept German players the new regime comes into force.

Earlier this week, regulators in Hesse state signalled a truce with German-facing online casino providers, agreeing to take “no enforcement measures” against operators ahead of the regulated market’s unveiling.

States such as Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Saarland, however, have shown little interest in tolerating activity they perceive as currently illegal, no matter what the future holds.

All three firms mentioned in the NDR report distanced themselves from the idea that they were doing business illegally, citing court cases involving operators licensed in jurisdictions like Malta and Gibraltar to back their arguments.

It’s probably worth noting that the three were among the five gambling operators whose age-verification procedures were publicly shamed in January by a consumer watchdog in Bavaria. The brands additionally have sponsorship deal with German football clubs, although the conceit here is that the product being promoted is sports betting, not other casino offerings.

Meanwhile, the federal government’s drug czar Daniela Ludgwig claimed earlier this week that online casino advertising was “not only totally ethically and morally wrong, but also endangers the health of almost 500,000 people in Germany.”

Ludwig also said that she would like to see an end to sports betting ads and “companies that have been violating applicable law for years should not be rewarded with tolerance.”


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