German State of Saarland Slams Two Online Casino Ops for Unauthorized Ads

Two online casinos licensed by the German state of Schleswig-Holstein were this week ordered to stop advertising their products in the state of Saarland.

The latter state’s media regulator, Landesmedienanstalt (LMS), said that it has told two major online casino operators that hold licenses from Schleswig-Holstein to stop promoting their offering in Saarland. The regulator did not name the errant companies.

Schleswig-Holstein is the only German state where online casino-style games are permitted. Germany’s Third State Treaty on Gambling, which the country’s 16 states finally approved this past March after years of discussions, permits online sports betting but prohibits online casinos.

The recently approved regulatory framework is only a temporary one and will be valid through July 2021. A permanent regime will take effect next year and that one will permit online casino gambling alongside digital sports betting.

Schleswig-Holstein has been issuing online casino, poker, and wagering licenses to both domestic and international companies since 2012. It renewed the online casino licenses last year and the LMS noted this week that the state had originally guaranteed that its licensees would not be able to advertise their products outside the state.

However, the Saarland regulator pointed out that “in practice […] this limitation is no longer noticeable.”

Casino Ads Appear on Far Too Many Private TV Programs

The LMS noted that online casino ads have been appearing on “a far too large number of private TV programs” and at time-windows where children and adolescents are exposed to gambling advertising content which makes them “particularly vulnerable.”

In other words, despite its promises, Schleswig-Holstein has been unable to prevent locally licensed casino operators from airing their ads on national broadcasts.

Germany was supposed to begin issuing sports betting licenses under its Third State Treaty on Gambling earlier this year. However, the Darmstadt Administrative Court ruled in April that the process lacked transparency, siding with Austrian bookmaker Vierklee which brought the legal challenge.

According to the sports betting operator, the licensing process was mired by lack of transparency and aimed to favor companies that had previously been active in the local digital betting space.

The Darmstadt Regional Council and the Hessian Ministry of the Interior, the two bodies responsible for accepting, processing, and approving license applications appealed the negative ruling in the Kassel Administrative Court.

The Darmstadt Regional Council said that while it awaits the results from its appeal, it would continue to accept and assess sports betting license applications to ensure that when the actual license issuing process restarts, everything would go smoothly.

According to the council, more than 50 sports betting operators have applied or have committed to applying for a license to operate in a regulated environment.

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