News 22nd April 2015

Germany’s Sports Advisory Council resigns over sports betting regulatory process

Germany’s Sports Advisory Council (SAC) on the Interstate Gambling Treaty (ITG) has resigned from its role as an advisor to the government body issuing gambling licences to sports betting operators, in protest at alleged ignorance of its criticisms of the ITG in an interim report. The German Sports Betting Association (DSWV) has warned that the delays are pushing consumers towards the black market and are jeopardising the integrity of German sport.

The SAC, which is chaired by Michael Vesper, CEO of the German Olympic committee (DOSB), resigned its role as advisor to the Hesse Ministry of the Interior and Sport, which is overseeing the licensing process, on 17 April. The body includes representatives from the country’s football association, gymnastics association and more.

The ITG entered into force on 1 July 2012, setting out a process whereby 20 nationwide licenses would be issued to online sports betting operators. However, as the ITG is subject to a number of court challenges (including a challenge at the Court of Justice of the European Union), this process has been delayed. In 2013, the SAC warned that by limiting the number of sports betting operators to 20, Germany would be infringing EU freedom of competition and trade laws.

The SAC allege that the Glücksspielkollegiums (the Hesse government’s gambling college) ignored its criticisms of the deficiencies of the licensing process in an interim report evaluating the status of the IST. ‘It accurately presented that the Advisory Board welcomes the efforts to prevent match-fixing as well as preserving the integrity of sports competition’, wrote Vesper in a letter to Dietmar Woidke, Chairman of the Prime Ministers’ Conference (WPC), explaining the decision. ‘However, it is the considered view of organised sport that the specific design of the opening of the sports betting market within the current IST suffers from substantial defects that are responsible for its previous non-implementation, and that these concerns were simply deleted without warning. This, we feel to be a targeted snub at the Sports Advisory Council by the gambling college, which is apparently not interested in taking the legitimate concerns of organised sport into consideration.’

The DSWV warned that the delays are pushing consumers towards the black market. “Germany’s betting regulation is currently an economic programme for black market operators, who pump billions of dollars from the German market to Asia and Central America, and jeopardise the integrity of sporting competition”, said DSWV President Mathias Dahms in a 17 April statement. “The regulatory chaos has produced only losers in Germany. The state has slipped from being in any regulatory control of the market, willing sportsbooks have been stuck in a continuos process for years, consumers are driven into the arms of black market vendors and German sport is at considerable risk from match fixing.”

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