Hamburg Chooses Enforcement Actions Against Online Casinos

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Bwin, Tipico and Bet3000 have been accused of operating illegal online casinos in Hamburg, as the Hamburg Interior Authority filed criminal complaints against them in a development that showed the glaring differences between the 16 German states ahead of the New Treaty on Gambling coming into force July 1, 2021.

Germany States Divided

Barely a day after the regulatory body for the industry, the Regional Council of Darmstadt, announced it would not continue with enforcement actions against operators and would instead focus on developing transitional regulations to acknowledge their presence on the market, authorities in Hamburg chose another approach against companies that are operating for years in Germany and are massively involved in German sports.

Tipico is an official partner of Bayern Munich, Bet3000 has a sponsorship deal with the other major football club from Munich, TSV 1860, while Bwin is the official sponsor of Borussia Dortmund. And while the emphasis of such deals has always been on the sports book offerings by the companies, authorities in Hamburg argue otherwise.

Online Casino Adverts Submitted as Proofs?

The Hamburg Interior Authority insisted on criminal prosecution based on the fact that the operators have already been prohibited from providing online casinos, a decision all three refuse to respect. Evidence to support those accusations in the form of online casino adverts is believed to have been submitted by the authorities in Hamburg, and the state’s public prosecutor confirmed the ongoing reviews against the companies.

All three operators denied claims they were operating illegally, Bwin stating that the legal challenge had no legal standing as the brand operates legally in Germany under European laws and regulations, and the operator expects the filing to be dismissed, while Tipico outlined it believes the online casino prohibition in the Third State Treaty on Gambling is in violation of European law.

In March 2020, Germany’s Head of 16 States met in Berlin and put the final touches on an agreement for a broad federal gaming environment that would legalize online casino and poker and will come into force in the summer of 2021.

The lawsuit filed against Bwin, Tipico and Bet3000 is just another confirmation of the vast gap among the federal states regarding their approach to the issue. While one group is supporting tolerance against operations that will be legal next year as the Germany’s New State Treaty on Gambling comes into force, another group insists on further enforcement actions against gambling companies and their payment providers, and the country’s Gaming Advisory Board is joining the camp of the latter.

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