Germany: Delay of sports betting licencing process – first licences not expected before August

The licencing process for sports betting offers in Germany has been substantially delayed. While the authorities initially targeted May 2013 to issue the first of the up to 20 licences to be granted under the Interstate Treaty on Gambling, they have now postponed the timeframe. As German media report contrary to certain rumours, the competent Ministry of the Interior of Hesse provided information that the first licences will now be issued not before mid-August 2013. According to other conjectures some of the 20 licences might be granted earlier and only a second batch of licences will be postponed to August or later.

However, the expected delay has been caused by the very problematic tender process which – according to a recent judgment by the administrative court Wiesbaden – is inconsistent and lacking transparency. This leads to a considerable number of legal disputes already in the current phase of the tender process where no licence has been granted at all.

According to information in the media, the Ministry envisages ca. 80 legal disputes on the licencing process and the granting of the licences. Some of them are already brought before the courts while many more are still about to come. Legal actions are expected to be brought by unsuccessful applicants as well as successful applicants trying to fight collateral clauses of the licences.

Against this background, it might not surprise that the Ministry is currently seeking for expert legal advice and representation in court by means of a national expression-of-interest procedure. Legal advisers can submit their expressions of interests until 4 June, 12.00 p.m.

Hence, the German market for (online) sports betting offers is still put on hold and for the time being legal certainty and accurate licencing appears to be nothing more than just a pious hope.