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Online Poker may still not be advertised

Gambling in Germany

Gambling providers continue to have a good time in Germany. Only recently, the Koblenz Regional Court ruled that the freedom to provide services would not applyto lottery agencies. Now the Higher Administrative Court of Lüneburg has upheld the online advertising ban for poker providers.

The legal basis for the prohibition is Section 9 para. 1 Sentence 3 No. 3 of the Gambling State Treaty of 15 December 2011 (Nds. GVBl. 2012, 190, 196, entered into force on 1.7.2012) – GlüStV – i.V.m. 4 Sentence 2 of the Lower Saxony Gambling Act – NGlüSpG. Pursuant to Section 9 para. 1 Sentence 1 GlüStV is for the gaming authority to monitor the performance of the obligations under public law or established under this State Treaty and to ensure that illicit gambling and the advertising for this is not necessary. The competent authority of the respective country may issue the necessary orders on a case-by-case basis (Section 9 (1) sentence 2 GlüStV). In particular, it may, in accordance with Paragraph 9(4) of the 1 Sentence 3 No. 3 GlüStV prohibit the organisation, conduct and mediation of illicit games of chance and the advertising thereof. During section 9 para. 1 Sentence 3 No. 3 GlüStV gives the Gaming Inspectorate a discretion to prohibit an unauthorised event or mediation of illicit gambling, presifies Paragraph 22 para. 4 Sentence 2 NGlüSpG an obligation to intervene.

Is Poker Gambling?

The court also stated that poker was to a large extent a gamble:

The defendant correctly stated in the contested decision that the proportion of poker’s skill lags behind the gambling character, since the decision on the prize depends entirely or predominantly on chance. This is in line with the jurisprudence of the Senate with regard to the poker variant “Texas Hold’em”. v. 10.8.2009 – 11 ME 67/09 -, NVwZ-RR 2010, 104, juris, Rn. 9; also: OVG Berlin-Brandenburg, Beschl. v. 20.4.2009 – 1 S 203.08 -, juris, Rn. 7; VGH Baden-Württemberg, Beschl. v. 9.3.2011 – 6 S 2255/10 -, juris, Rn. 7). The finding that for average players playing poker in the “Texas Hold’em” game variant, the outcome of the game and thus the chance to win depends mainly on chance and only to a lesser extent on the skill of the player, the Federal Administrative Court has not challenged the appeal in the absence of a recourse to proceedings (Urt. v. 22.1.2014 – 8 C 26/12 -, NJW 2014, 2299, juris, paragraph 15).

 

In the result, then,

The Court therefore also joins the Federal Administrative Court. By judgment of 26 October 2017, the latter expressly confirmed that the internet ban of Paragraph 4(4) of the 4 GlüStV remains compatible with constitutional and EU law and is also compatible with constitutional law and even after the admission of the exemptions for lotteries and sports and horse betting in accordance with Paragraph 4(4) of the 5 GlüStV does not require a different legal assessment. In doing so, the Federal Administrative Court has taken the view that the prohibition of the Internet is a non-discriminatory way of making constitutionally and EU law legitimate public interest objectives, in particular the protection of minors and the fight against gambling addiction and and point out the specific dangers of offering games on the Internet.

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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