Unlawful prohibition of sports betting in Germany

The Federal Administrative Court of Germany (BVerwG) ruled in a recent decision that if the state monopoly for sports betting persists an administrative prohibition of sports betting without a German sports betting concession would be unlawful.

This decision ties in with a recent decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). There the ECJ ruled that a criminal prosecution of a sports betting intermediate is contrary to EU law if the licensing process for private sports betting organizers has been held to not conform with EU law by national courts.

Dr. Michael Stulz-Herrnstadt and Christoph Engelmann commented on the decision of the BVerwG in the German magazine “GRUR-Prax” 2016 p. 542. The article can be viewed here (in German, subscription based).

Permanent link to this article: http://blogs.dlapiper.com/mediaandsport/2016/11/unlawful-prohibition-of-sports-betting-in-germany/

Polish Regulator publishes a new report on the gambling market in 2015

The Polish Regulator has published a new report on the implementation of the Polish Gambling Act in 2015. The report presents interesting statistical data and summarizes the most important court judgements.

The Polish version can be downloaded from the Regulator’s website: link.

Permanent link to this article: http://blogs.dlapiper.com/mediaandsport/2016/11/polish-regulator-publishes-a-new-report-on-the-gambling-market-in-2015/

New gambling law for Germany

By Dr. Michael Stulz-Herrnstadt and Christoph Engelmann

A few days after the prime minister conference decided on the amendment of the State Treaty on Gambling Germany has informed the EU commission about the proposed legislative changes.

The draft of the “Second State Treaty Amending the State Treaty on Gambling” provides for a few changes of the German gambling regulation that try to answer criticism by the European Court of Justice. Sports betting concessions will not be issued on a quantitative but on a qualitative basis in the future. This includes lifting the limit of 20 sports betting concessions and even issuing preliminary concessions for the 35 operators that have been found to meet the requirements for a concession and that are listed in the draft. In addition the German state of Hesse will hand over its competence to issue the sports betting concessions to another German state.

Unfortunately the German states decided to leave it at these minimal changes. They are looking into strengthening the enforcement against unlicensed gambling and into amending the regulation of online casinos. But the draft does not included changes in this regard and it does not address the criticism of the Council of Games of Chance (Gluecksspielkollegium) and the advertising guidelines (Werberichtlinie).

The standstill period of the EU notification procedure lasts until February 2017. The German states aim at a ratification of the new law until 31 December 2017. This means that the amended State Treaty on Gambling will not enter into force before 1 January 2018 and that the interim measure of getting orders of approval for sports betting will become more relevant until the concession procedure is realigned by the new State Treaty.

Permanent link to this article: http://blogs.dlapiper.com/mediaandsport/2016/11/new-gambling-law-for-germany/

Valencian Football Clubs have to pay back more than EUR 30 million of state aid. Professional sport clubs should be aware of the European State aid rules!

On November 04 the European Commission published the full text of its Decision on incompatible State aid to Valencian football clubs (SA.36387, an appeal has been filed). The Commission concluded that public support measures in the form of loan guarantees by the regional government of Valencia in favour of the football clubs FC Valencia, Hercules and Elche were granted in breach of EU State aid rules. As a result, Spain has to recover the illegal State. A  further decision regarding incompatible State aid granted by Spain to four other professional clubs (FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Atlético Osasuna) has not been published yet.

The Commission concluded that the three Valencian clubs were in financial difficulty at the time of granting of the measures and the premiums charged for the guarantees cannot be considered as reflecting the risk of default for the guaranteed loans, which is why the measures provide for a selective advantage. The Commission grounds the distortion of competition and effect on trade between Member States on different reasons. Professional clubs compete for presence in European competitions as the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. Furthermore, professional sports clubs are active on the markets for merchandising, broadcasting rights and sponsoring. On these markets, the teams generate revenue and compete with other clubs within and outside their home country. Therefore, public support measures granted to professional sports clubs can be liable to distort or threaten to distort competition and affect trade between Member States.

The Commission takes into account that measures granted to sport clubs might be found compatible under the State Aid rules under the notion of “development of economic activities” as the Union shall contribute to the promotion of sporting issues. But in this case the examined aid measures of the regional government of Valencia cannot be considered compatible with the internal market because the conditions and principles of the applicable guidelines are not met.

There might be good reasons for financial contributions by the State to sport clubs. However, The State, stakeholders and the clubs themselves shall thoroughly review legal boundaries especially regarding EU State aid law. Unlawful aid can be granted in many ways and often is not visible at first sight. As incompatible measures will be recovered from the beneficiary it is crucial to be aware of this topic whenever a club is dealing with authorities.

Permanent link to this article: http://blogs.dlapiper.com/mediaandsport/2016/11/valencian-football-clubs-have-to-pay-back-more-than-eur-30-million-of-state-aid-professional-sport-clubs-should-be-aware-of-the-european-state-aid-rules/

Prime minister conference: amendment of the German State Treaty on Gambling

By Dr. Michael Stulz-Herrnstadt and Christoph Engelmann

Last week the German prime ministers reached an agreement on the amendment of the German State Treaty on Gambling (GlueStV). They decided to cancel the limitation of concessions for sports betting. With the 2012 GlueStV the German states wanted to allow up to 20 licenses for private sports betting operators. However, none of the licenses has been issued. This led to criticism by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and court decisions that even ordered the gambling authorities to issue sports betting licenses for operators. In the future the concessions shall not be limited to the amount of 20 but be assigned on the basis of minimum standards.

In addition to this the prime ministers ask the gambling authorities to consider the possibilities of improving the enforcement against illegal online gambling (especially unlicensed lotteries, sports betting and online casino games) possibly by founding a public-law institution with centralized responsibility. While evaluating the GlueStV the authorities shall also consider the simplification of identification and authentication of players and the substitution of the monthly stake-limit of 1.000 Euro with a loss-limit in the same amount. At last the prime ministers ask the gambling authorities to examine which regulatory measures could improve the regulation of online casinos considering the experience in other European countries. This decision hints in the direction that even licensing of online casinos might be possible in the future.

However, this is just the first decision of the prime ministers. After the criticism by the ECJ a new gambling regulation is needed in Germany and this decision of the prime ministers will hopefully lead to an amendment of the GlueStV in the near future. While the prime ministers of the 16 German states are discussing those amendments the authorities are working on a process to align the sports betting regulation with EU law. They reached an agreement to give out orders of approval for sports betting operators in the meantime. These orders allow (online) sports betting in Germany if certain requirements are met. However, the operator needs an order of approval in every single German state and not every state has an approval process in place.

Permanent link to this article: http://blogs.dlapiper.com/mediaandsport/2016/11/prime-minister-conference-amendment-of-the-german-state-treaty-on-gambling/

UK: Online gambling operators probed over compliance with consumer protection laws

By Alastair Mackichan

On 21 October 2016, the Competition and Markets Authority (the “CMA“) announced that it is launching an inquiry into the practices of online gambling operators. In particular, the CMA will scrutinise the fairness of gambling licensees’ terms and conditions following concerns raised by the Gambling Commission earlier this year.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blogs.dlapiper.com/mediaandsport/2016/10/uk-online-gambling-operators-probed-over-compliance-with-consumer-protection-laws/

How should the Polish Gambling Games Act be amended?

In connection with on-going work on the amendment of the Polish Gambling Games Act (the “Act”), numerous press articles have been published, presenting the planned amendments and assessing their impact. Meanwhile, it is worth analysing which provisions of the present Act, not necessarily those covered by the draft amendment, should be changed in order to achieve postulated market opening or extension of the catalogue of gambling games that are licensed in Poland. There is no doubt that only such opening and the consequent extension of the scope of licensed gambling, especially – the group of entities entitled under relevant concessions or licenses to provide online gambling services, can guarantee meeting the primary objectives of user protection, ring-fencing the market and reducing the grey market. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://blogs.dlapiper.com/mediaandsport/2016/10/how-should-the-polish-gambling-games-act-be-amended/

Howzat! NSW female cricketers first fully paid Australian professional women’s team

The New South Wales Breakers has put all squad members on full time contracts, increasing the minimum salary from AU$11,000 to at least AU$35,000. Players now have the potential to earn more than AU$100,000 when playing both domestically and internationally.Combined with Cricket Australia increasing total payments for domestic and international players, Cricket NSW secured sponsorship from Lendlease which ensured this landmark moment for elite female participation in sport.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blogs.dlapiper.com/mediaandsport/2016/10/howzat-nsw-female-cricketers-first-fully-paid-australian-professional-womens-team/

Digital Content Distribution: the EU Commission Inquiry

A few weeks ago the EU Commission published the preliminary report of its inquiry on the e-commerce sector launched in May 2015, in the context of the Digital Single Market Strategy, DSM Strategy. The Inquiry is investigating both online sales of consumer goods and sale / license of digital content, and the latter is the subject of this post. Read more below and its’ worth noting that stakeholders have until the end of October to send their contributions. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://blogs.dlapiper.com/mediaandsport/2016/10/digital-content-distribution-the-eu-commission-inquiry/

German Federal Court declares unlawfulness of penalty initiated by FIFA

German football club SV Wilhelmshaven (SVW) won a case before the German Federal Court (BGH) today concerning the lawfulness of a penalty based on FIFA.

Due to the non-payment of training compensations for an international transfer of a player, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee had decided on the enforced relegation of the SVW. After the CAS had affirmed this penalty, the North German Football Association (NFV) had implemented the relegation. While further complaints remained unsuccessful, the SVW won before the Higher Regional Court in Bremen (OLG), which considered the enforced relegation to be unlawful. Today, the BGH confirmed the OLG’s judgement.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blogs.dlapiper.com/mediaandsport/2016/09/german-federal-court-declares-unlawfulness-of-penalty-initiated-by-fifa/

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