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Cologne Regional Court bans advertising for online gambling on TV

Many people are probably already annoyed by the commercials, at least outside Schleswig-Holstein. The latter can rejoice, as advertising for online gambling on television remains banned in Germany.

The Cologne Regional Court has prohibited the broadcast of commercials that indirectly promote online gambling, which is banned in Germany.

The plaintiff acting in this case is an association of German gaming companies that represents the interests of lottery companies, providers of social lotteries and various retail outlets. He objected to the media group of a television station that broadcast different commercials on television.

In these spots, gambling top-level domains from Germany were advertised, among other things. However, the operators were only allowed to offer their online games to residents of the territory of the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein due to a special agreement between the federal states.

The association therefore opposed television advertising for games of chance and online casinos on the relevant domains.de, because this would also develop an advertising effect for gambling on the Internet, which is prohibited in the other German states. The spots would also be inadmissible because they have an advertising effect for comparable gambling domains with the corresponding “.com” domain, whose online games are banned nationwide due to lack of a license and whose operators are based in Malta.

The defendant is of the opinion that the commercials are not objectionable. The use of online gambling would be restricted to players residing in Schleswig-Holstein. The television commercials on the .de domains would also not result in impermissible advertising for the .com domains.com.

The Regional Court took a different view and has now ordered the media group to cease broadcasting the TV commercials. According to the judges, this is advertising for a prohibited online game of chance.

In principle, the organization of public games of chance on the Internet is prohibited. Only the state of Schleswig-Holstein has allowed their residents to participate in online gambling.

The judges were able to leave open whether the broadcast of the commercials with the top-level domain .de is illegal for the other federal states except Schleswig-Holstein. However, they considered it proven that the commercials for the .de top-level domains are inadmissible in any case because they also have an indirect advertising effect for the .com domains.com domains, which do not have a gambling license in Germany. They at least arouse sympathy for gambling and therefore also promote the sale of gambling as a whole.

The Internet addresses of the domains.com and the .de domains are almost identical and specifically use the same keywords or umbrella brands and the same graphic design. The players remember the umbrella brand of the websites most of all in the advertising films. In a subsequent search and the entry of the umbrella brand in search engines, they are led directly to the domains.com.

An interesting reasoning of the court is as follows: It would also be incomprehensible if gambling operators were to advertise gambling at such a high cost, in which only players residing in Schleswig-Holstein were allowed to participate. Instead, they would have aimed to specifically promote gambling by the umbrella brands on the domains.com to promote. The

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.

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