17 February 2007

Germany Opens Doors to British Online Casino Players

The Casino Wiesbaden in Frankfurt is set to offer British online gamblers a unique experience: playing live roulette from the comfort of their own homes. Registered players will be able to place his or her stakes on the roulette table via their computer. They then keep track of the ball and the croupier via 2 webcams.

Casino Wiesbaden's is Europe's only state-licensed and permanently state-controlled casino to offer online roulette. The game operates daily from 11:00am to 3am local time on two tables and with authentic wheels.

"Everything about our online roulette is real! The only difference is that the player is sitting at home at his or her PC instead of being here at the Casino's playing table", said Thomas Freiherr von Stenglin, the CEO of Casino Wiesbaden. "We're very excited to be able to welcome game-enthusiastic guests from the United Kingdom via the Internet."

16 February 2007

DCMS publishes gaming machine regulations

The DCMS has published its official consultation entitled "Gaming Machine Regulations Under Sections 240 (Use of Machines), 235 (Gaming machine: single apparatus) and 241 (Supply of machine)". The document aims to clear up grey areas of machine operation and offer guidance on gaming machine configurations.

Fly and play

UK-based low cost airline Flybe and Finland’s PAF Group have partnered to offer B2B gaming to Flybe’s customers via the website www.youplaytoo.com. The agreement means Flybe’s customers will be able to access interactive games such as roulette before and after their flights.

13 February 2007

GamCare critical of decision to allow bookmakers to open 12 hours a day

Problem gambling charity has expressed concern at the UK government’s decision to allow betting shops to open for 12 hours a day, all year round, under the Gambling Act. The Salvation Army was also critical of the announcement.

A GamCare spokesperson commented: “Betting shops are one of the prime instances of problem gambling. Local authorities must protect their population.” The Salvation Army’s Captain Matt Spencer said: “Any increased opportunity to gamble is of great concern, particularly in terms of the effect on vulnerable people such as children and problem gamblers.”

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: “What the Gambling Act does is to remove uncertainty and confusion by creating uniform maximum opening hours that will apply all year round."

Two bidders confirmed for UK National Lottery licence

The National Lottery Commission has confirmed that it has received bids from current incumbent Camelot and Sugal and Damani, India’s biggest lottery operator, for the next licence to run the UK lottery. The winner will be announced by the end of June 2007 and the licence will be finalised by late August.

Camelot chief executive Dianne Thompson marked Sugal and Damani as serious competitors. “I don’t underestimate them at all. Well done to the National Lottery Commission. They wanted a competition and they have got one,” she commented.

05 February 2007

Administrative Court of Appeal of Baden-Württemberg: Sports betting agent is allowed to continue his activity

The Administrative Court of Appeal (Verwaltungsgerichtshof) of Baden-Württemberg, in its decision of 25 January 2007 (file-no. 6 S 2964/06) which was served today, dismissed an appeal filed by the State of Baden-Württemberg. The plaintiff, a sports betting agent represented by ARENDTS ANWÄLTE (http://www.wettrecht.de/), thus succeeded in the last level of jurisdiction against an order of prohibition issued by the Regional Council (Regierungspräsidium) of Karlsruhe. The Administrative Court of Stuttgart, in its decision of 23 November 2006 (file-no. 4 K 3895/06), had already ordered suspensive effect of the legal action and thus granted stay of execution to the agent (cf. German Gaming Law updated no. 53).

The Administrative Court of Appeal pointed out that the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht), in its sports betting decision of 28 March 2006, ordered the states to consequently focus the current betting monopoly on fighting betting addiction and limiting betting fervour even during the transitional period. The Administrative Court of Stuttgart had answered the issue in the negative. The Administrative Court had pointed out that it could not find measures limiting the distribution channels criticised by the Federal Constitutional Court. It also expressed doubts regarding effective youth protection. Following up these arguments, the Administrative Court of Appeal explained that the State of Baden-Württemberg still had not proven to comply with the requirements demanded by the Federal Constitutional Court. In addition, the appeal did not go into the issue of advertising by the state-owned Staatliche Toto-Lotto GmbH Baden-Württemberg which, according to the Administrative Court of Stuttgart, exceeded pure information.

Comment: The completely diverging jurisdiction of the administrative courts regarding the cross-border transfer of sporting bets continues. Whereas several Administrative Courts of Appeal (such as the Administrative Courts of Appeal of North Rhine-Westphalia, of Bavaria and of Berlin-Brandenburg) affirmed prohibition orders contradicting the criminal law judgement, others (such as the Administrative Courts of Appeal of Schleswig-Holstein and of the Saarland) expressed severe legal doubts and granted stay of execution. The Administrative Court of Appeal of Baden-Württemberg now followed this latter opinion. One can only hope that the European Court of Justice is going to clearly rule on the importance of the freedom to provide services and the freedom of establishment with regard to the cross-border provision of sports betting in the upcoming Placanica decision, now awaited to be pronounced in March.

German Gaming Law updated No. 63