* Schleswig-Holstein to join agreement of other states
* Gambling agreement caps German concessions at 20
* Could mean no more concessions across Germany
* German court: Schleswig-Holstein's solo move not illegal
By Jan Schwartz
HAMBURG, Jan 24 The German state of
Schleswig-Holstein will stop granting gambling concessions to
private companies, which could shut the last point of entry for
betting firms into Europe's biggest economy.
Germany's states have clung for years to their dominance in
the online gambling and sports betting market, citing the risk
of widespread gambling addiction in an unregulated scenario.
Meanwhile, private companies have been trying to break into the
Schleswig-Holstein, Germany's northernmost federal state,
broke out of the pack to become the only one of the country's 16
states to relax its gambling laws, while all others signed an
agreement allowing only 20 concessions to be granted to private
companies across the country.
Schleswig-Holstein's former centre-right government granted
three six-year betting licences to Betfair, Jaxx and
Oddset last May, only days before losing elections for state
parliament. Since then, the state has granted 23 concessions for
sports betting and 13 for online casino-style games such as
But now its new centre-left government rescinded the
liberalisation, caving to concern that a "Las Vegas of the
North" could foster gambling addiction and encourage
The state will join its peers' agreement capping the number
of concessions nationwide at 20, a level it has already exceeded
by far on its own. That means that no more licenses may come
onto the German market at all.
The existing licenses granted by Schleswig-Holstein are
still valid, though court proceedings could still change that.
Germany's Federal Court of Justice was asked to rule on
whether Schleswig-Holstein's solo move to liberalise the
gambling market may have been illegal.
The court passed the matter on to the European Court of
Justice (ECJ) but said it believed that it was up to individual
states to regulate gambling as long as they did not
significantly hinder the goals of the other states' betting
"We welcome the court's decision. There appear to be
inconsistencies and we now await the decision by the ECJ," a
spokesman for online gaming company bwin.party said.
Bwin.party said this month that Germany should allow online
gaming companies to compete on level terms with locally-based
Other foreign gambling companies, including Betfair and
William Hill, have scaled down their operations in
Germany because of a 5 percent turnover tax on sports betting.