EGBA challenges German gambling ban

German flag
The online gambling industry is challenging Germany's recently implemented online gambling ban.

The online gambling industry in Europe filed an official complaint with the European Commission today that alleges that Germany's ban on online gambling breaks European Union law on the free movement of services.

The European Gaming and Betting Association is objecting to the new German Interstate Treaty on gaming which bans online gambling in Germany. The treaty was enacted Jan. 1, and EGBA contends that it is in direct contravention of European Union law.

"The provisions of the Treaty severely restrict the rights of EGBA's members to provide services under Article 49 of the Treaty of Rome," says the EGBA in a press release.

The European Commission, under its notification procedure, had raised formal objections to the German online gambling ban before it was implemented, but it was enacted regardless.

According to the EGBA, the adoption of the online gambling ban not only restricts the activities of EU operators, but directly challenges the Commission's clear position under the notification procedure itself.

"Prohibition is not and has never been a solution, be it in our sector or other sectors. It is not a responsible approach and cannot be a substitute to an efficient gaming policy," said Norbert Teufelberger, EGBA chairman.

"Focusing on online gaming does not make sense when most recent peer-reviewed studies show that although online and offline gaming [have] different target audience[s], players' behavior is similar whether online or offline."

He also pointed out that in a regulated environment, online gaming allows for higher transparency and traceability.

Sigrid Ligne, EGBA secretary general, said the German treaty is incompatible with EU law, and the organization was left with no other choice than to make a formal complaint with the EC.

"We urge the Commission now to fast track our complaint and launch infringement proceedings against Germany," Ligne said.

The EGBA is an association of several European gaming and betting operators, including bwin, PartyGaming and others.

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