888, Ladbrokes licensed by Schleswig-Holstein

888 and Ladbrokes were among four operators issued with online sports betting licences by the German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein today.

The three other permits issued today, valid until 26 August 2018, were granted to two companies. Novomatic-owned Admiral Sportwetten was issued with licences for its local (Relligen) and Austrian (Gumpoldskirchen) subsidiaries, while Malta-based Cashpoint was also granted a licence. A total of 12 betting licences have now been issued by SH, with Ladbrokes and 888 joining fellow pan-European brands bet365, Betfair and bwin in holding permits from Germany’s northernmost federal state, or Land.

Interior minister Andreas Breitner confirmed Friday that there will be no moratorium on the issue of further permits under the Gambling Act its coalition government is looking to repeal, meaning the licensing process will remain active until the European Commission has approved its gambling reforms. The statutory standstill period for the EC to review changes to Member States’ gambling laws lasts a minimum of three months, extended to four if another Member State decides to comment. Schleswig-Holstein said today that it was currently reviewing applications from 22 other vendors for online betting, and that: “In addition, 22 applicants are seeking a licence for online casino games such as poker and roulette.”

Germany’s northernmost Land is already being sued by existing online sports betting licence holders bwin and mybet over alleged delays in the issue of their online poker and casino licences.

Any licences issued under Schleswig-Holstein’s existing Gambling Law will be honoured for their full six-year term, as confirmed by the government’s two bills to abolish the Act and opt the Land back into the Interstate Gambling Treaty (ITG) backed by the other Länder. These received their first reading in the federal state’s parliament on Friday. Schleswig-Holstein has however not been able to levy and collect taxes on online sports bets from its licensed operators since 1 July when the ITG came into force, due to a  clause in its own Gambling Act that stipulated  “gaming duty shall not be levied on … lotteries and betting that are subject to taxation under the [federal] Betting and Lotteries Act.”

In contrast to the Gambling Act the SPD, Green and SSW coalition in Schleswig-Holstein is looking to repeal, which provides for the issue of unlimited licences for all products based on a 20% gross profit tax, the ITG it is looking to join will restrict licences to 20 companies for sports betting based on a high 5% stakes tax. The new ITG also upholds the ban on online poker and casino across the participating federal states. The invitation to tender for one of the new German sports betting licences under the ITG, valid across 14 of the federal states with the exception of Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia, which are yet to ratify the Treaty, closes at noon on 4 September.

Casino Choice journalist

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