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Press Release PARR: ECJ fails to recognize the opportunities afforded by the internet and winds back the clock

September 9, 2009 2009

published by Sports spokesman of the FDP Parliamentary Group, Detlef Parr on 8 September 2009

BERLIN. Sports spokesman of the FDP Parliamentary Group, Detlef Parr, comments on the ECJ ruling that the ban under Portuguese law on companies such as bwin offering games of chance on the internet is compatible with the freedom of services:

The ruling shows: urgent action is also needed in Germany – we have to rethink the existing regulations within the German Interstate Treaty on Gambling. Private gambling operators are just as able to meet the requirements for protection of gamblers as the state operators and indeed are already doing so.

The internet has long been able to offer effective protection for players. The Interstate Treaty on Gambling would, according to the latest ECJ ruling, only be deemed suitable for achieving the aim of combating addiction, if it did so in a coherent system. However, as comparable categories of gambling such as sports betting (state monopoly) and horse betting (private sector) are treated completely differently, this constitutes a clear violation of European law according to this latest ECJ ruling. The ECJ will thus withdraw recognition under European law of the Interstate Treaty on Gambling at the latest in the scope of the German preliminary ruling on Carmen Media.

The ECJ ruling is a step in the wrong direction. The ECJ has provided support for the national monopolies. The reasoning of the ECJ, that “the limitation of the freedom of services can be justified on compelling grounds in the public interest” is pure window dressing. Nobody has yet been able to absolutely define the specific conditions which must be met in order to justify government imposed limitations on betting operators.

The state has to provide such a definition. All those involved on a federal and Land level need to overcome their conventional, party mentality and find a solution which corrects the negative effects of the Interstate Treaty on Gambling.

Wulf Hambach

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