GIQ: German states could be ready to embrace Schleswig-Holstein

By Wulf Hambach and Maximilian Riege, Hambach & Hambach, published in GIQ, April – June 2012, Q1 News Review, page 44


THE EU COMMISSION continues to block the new state treaty. The first draft had already fallen through with a big bang. Brussels did not hold back with its criticism either – in spite of the diplomatic tone.

When signed in mid-December 2011 by all 16 German minister presidents except minister president Peter Harry Carstensen from Schleswig-Holstein, the treaty’s ratification was made subject to a “concluding positive statement from the EU Commission”.

But the EU Commission was not impressed by the new draft: “On the basis of the information provided by the German authorities, the Commission services are not yet in a position to assess the extent of the problems identified or the suitability and proportionality of the measure proposed.”

The accusation that the gaming regulation lacks scientific foundation is the leitmotif of the Commission letter.

As the route taken so far by the 15 minister presidents has not led to any legislative answers, it is high time to take a step in a different direction – to the north. Schleswig-Holstein’s gambling legislation was approved by the EU in 2011.

So Schleswig-Holstein is the only German state with fully approved gambling legislation. Only the technical requirements and the so-called monitoring ordinance are pending. However, it is expected that a first round of preliminary licences for online gaming operators will be issued in April.

Gambling providers will be able to obtain a licence issued by Schleswig-Holstein, while the rest of Germany is still lacking a gambling regulation compliant with EU law.

The other 15 German federal states seem to be coming round. The minister for economic affairs in Lower Saxony, Jörg Bode, admitted as much as soon as the Commission’s statement was published: “The treaty in its present form has failed.”

What will the next steps be? The minister presidents met again as GIQ was going to press and it seems that other federal states such as Hesse or Saxony could also jump ship.

Joining the Schleswig-Holstein regulatory model is possible at any time. The Schleswig-Holstein minister president and the parliamentary party leaders of CDU and FDP in the Kiel parliament have always emphasised that the door remains open for the other federal states to endorse the Schleswig-Holstein model. It’s now perhaps about time that they did.

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