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Courts overturn IP block on illegal gambling

Despite the new State Gambling Treaty and a trend in recent years for courts to affirm repayment claims by customers of gambling providers, the question of how providers abroad (whether licensed in Malta or not, for example) should deal with German customers remains difficult to answer.

This also includes many open legal questions, with those that I have to answer for clients in the area of blockchain and gambling in particular, of course.

But the Joint Gambling Authority of the Federal States (GGL) is not making much progress either and has had to accept a number of setbacks in the fight against illegal gambling in recent months. For example, in its ruling of February 3 (3 L 2261/22), the Düsseldorf Administrative Court declared GGL’s orders to telecommunications service providers to block illegal gambling websites to be unlawful. A few days earlier, the Higher Administrative Court of Rhineland-Palatinate (Ref.: 6 B 11175/22.OVG) had already ruled that there was no legal basis for the closures. The Berlin Administrative Court (4 L 505/22) has just agreed with this and consequently ordered the suspensive effect of the Internet provider’s action against the GGL’s blocking order.

Combating the black market for online sports betting and online gambling has been the task of the GGL since July 1, 2021. One of its enforcement tools is IP blocking, which is designed to prevent access to certain websites. However, courts are currently adopting the legal opinion that access providers are not responsible service providers within the meaning of the German Telemedia Act and that no measures can therefore be taken against them to block illegal gambling portals. If further courts in Bavaria and Hesse follow this legal opinion, the IP blocking measure for GGL will probably be at an end.
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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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03322 5078053

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info@rahaertel.com

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