LONDON, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Shares in online gambling companies Bwin.party and Betfair rose after the German state of Schleswig-Holstein passed gambling-friendly laws that may pave the way for less restrictive legislation throughout Germany.
Schleswig-Holstein has introduced new laws for online gambling which will enable companies to offer exchange and sports betting, as well as poker and casino games with the exception of roulette, blackjack and baccarat.
Companies will pay a 20 percent tax on gross profits, rather than the 16.67 percent tax on individual stakes proposed elsewhere, a levy which betting companies have argued would make it impossible for them to compete against state-run operators .
The Schleswig-Holstein laws, which have been approved by the EU Commission, will come into force in January and licences will become valid from March.
Shares in Bwin.party were up 13 percent to 129 pence at 1149 GMT, with Betfair up 2 percent to 722 pence.
“At best this represents the opening up of Germany to online gaming, in due course, on reasonable commercial terms. At worst it will greatly delay the introduction of a more restrictive regime,” said Numis analyst Ivor Jones.
“This news greatly reduces the risk to Bwin.party in relation to its largest market in our view,” he added.
Both Bwin.party - formed earlier this year by the merger between Partygaming and Austria’s Bwin - and Betfair told Reuters they intended to apply for licences in the state.
“The resolution passed today is an important and groundbreaking step on the way to an open and regulated gambling market in Germany,” Bwin.party said.
Betfair said it hoped other German states would now introduce similar legislation.
“We are now hopeful that the other 15 German States will make the regulated amendments to their proposed State Treaty, in order to bring it into line with EU law,” it said. (Reporting by Matt Scuffham, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)