Prohibition of illegal gambling in Schleswig Holstein

The OVG Schleswig has decided that the applicable provisions of the State Treaty on Gambling of the Länder must be in conformity with EU law and that providers of illicit public gambling must continue to be opposed in Schleswig-Holstein.

The applicant is a company based in Malta, which offers online casino and poker games in Schleswig-Holstein without the necessary permission. It challenged, by means of interim proceedings, a prohibition imposed by the Ministry of the Interior of the country to organise or mediate these games on the Internet itself or through third parties. The applicant argued, in essence, that the reservation of authorisation and the prohibition on the internet of the State Treaty on gambling were contrary to the freedom to provide services under European law. There are more recent findings on the degree of danger of individual games of chance which have not yet been sufficiently taken into account. In addition, the Land of Schleswig-Holstein pursues the political objective of liberalising public gambling.

The urgent request has also been unsuccessful at second instance, so that the prohibition can now be carried out.

In the opinion of the Higher Administrative Court, there was no convincing evidence that the risks, especially of online casino games, are being overstated. Similarly, the fact that the state government pursues other regulatory concepts for the period after the expiry of the Gambling State Treaty on 30.06.2021 is not yet sufficient evidence of the inappropriateness of the current Internet ban. Countries are free to choose between different regulatory approaches. As long as the Internet ban exists, however, it must also be carried out.

The decision is indisputable.

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