Sunday

17th Oct 2021

EU court strikes down Germany's gambling monopoly

  • German gambling monopolies don't limit addiction, says the ECJ (Photo: Flickr.com)

In a landmark ruling that may "ruin" German state lotteries and bring in big gains for private betting companies, the EU's top court said that the current state monopoly on gambling is "unjustifiable" and in breach of EU law.

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg said on Wednesday (8 September) that Germany had undermined its consumer-protection argument by letting state-run gambling companies engage in "intensive advertising campaigns" and by permitting a proliferation of automated gambling machines, which the court said were highly addictive.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"In such circumstances, the preventive objective of that monopoly can no longer be pursued, so that the monopoly ceases to be justifiable," the court said.

The top court also said Germany's national legislation on gambling is "contrary to the fundamental freedoms of the EU" and its provisions "cannot continue to apply during the time necessary to bring it into conformity with union law."

Under a bill adopted in 2008 and aimed at limiting gambling addiction, only state-run companies were allowed to offer lottery and betting services in Germany, bringing billions of euros to the state coffers.

Eight online gambling providers challenged this law in several regional courts, which in turn asked the ECJ whether the German system was legal.

The ECJ ruling was met with "surprise" on the part of the state lotteries, because the ECJ had already ruled that such monopolies in a number of other EU states are legal because they are aimed at limiting the social impact of gambling.

"It's a disaster ... If we don't get this thing fixed, our very existence is at stake," said Rolf Mueller, president of the sports federation of Hesse state, reports Deutsche Presse Agentur. Eighty per cent of the group's running costs are paid by the state lottery commission.

The other camp hailed the decision as a "landmark ruling" that "signals the end of the German online gaming ban", Sigrid Ligne, head of the European Gaming and Betting Association, said in a statement.

However, European Lotteries, a lobby group for national lotteries in 40 countries, disputed whether the ruling would open up the German market.

"On the contrary," the group said in a statement, "the court reminded Germany that it has to control more strictly the offer of dangerous forms of gambling such as casino games and gaming machines.

"The court pointed again to the higher risks associated with internet gambling."

Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency

Some 14 MEPs have created a group to probe allegations of rights abuse by the EU's border agency Frontex. Its head, Fabrice Leggeri, welcomed its creation and said it "is about time".

Romania denies forcing migrant-boat back to Turkish waters

Romania's ministry of internal affairs wrote to Frontex claiming it did not engage in any illegal pushbacks of people on rubber boats into Turkish territorial waters. The country says it followed EU engagement rules and Greek orders.

LGBTI fears over new Polish member at EU institution

A letter sent to the European Economic and Social Committee by a group of cross-party MEPs fighting for LGBTi rights expresses fears that a recently-appointed Polish member may try to undermine those rights.

EU condemns Slovenian PM's harassment of journalist

Slovenia's populist prime minister Janez Janša attempted to discredit a Brussels reporter after she published a critical article about the state of media freedoms in the country. The European Commission condemned the PM's language - but refrained from naming him.

News in Brief

  1. Poland legalises refugee pushbacks
  2. Report: China's Xi to snub UK climate summit
  3. Norway killings 'appeared to be' Islamist 'terrorism'
  4. Le Pen vows to 'dismantle' wind-power plants
  5. Slovenia PM tweets antisemitic conspiracy theory
  6. Italy sentences ship captain for Libya pushback
  7. Polish PM and von der Leyen to clash in Brussels next week
  8. MEPs call for improved roaming rules

Feature

Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. MEPs urge Sassoli to sue EU Commission on rule of law
  2. MEPs seek EU law on bogus anti-media litigation
  3. Africa seeks EU help on global vaccine-waiver
  4. Giant of 20th century European design recognised by EU
  5. Italy on edge as neo-fascists stir violence
  6. Gas-price spike will backfire on industry, energy guru says
  7. Scientists raise alarm on Greenland's ice-sheet loss
  8. EU calls for ban on Arctic oil and gas drilling

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us