The opening to commercial competition of Germany’s lucrative online betting markets continues to move at a glacial pace, with 43 operators still waiting for word on their applications.
Germany passed a new federal interstate gambling treaty last summer, creating 20 sports betting licenses. Last March, some 18 applicants were invited to interview with regulatory authorities. At the time it was assumed this was the short list. Now it appears none of the applications was completely satisfactory in meeting all the criteria. Meanwhile, the total of 43 applicants will be sent specific details by this month as to how their bids need to be updated and improved. They will then have three months to complete the changes. All of this could take until April, at which point, the process of evaluating the applications will begin again.
“It could easily be 2015 before any operators go live under their new licenses in Germany, and even before the point at which the licenses are issued the legal cases will begin,” said Lorien Pilling, director of U.K.-based Global Betting and Gaming Consultants.
As GBGC sees it, the legal challenges could take several forms:
• The initial deadlines to submit applications back in August 2012 were very short (three weeks), which discouraged some companies from applying. But with no licenses issued more than a year later, some companies may feel they were treated unfairly with false deadlines.
• Some applicants for a federal license have been invited for interview, others have not. Does that mean the interviewed applicants are at an advantage over those not called even though none were deemed to have met all the criteria?
• Are the 20 license holders in Schleswig-Holstein, the only state that has admitted private competition, in an advantageous position when it comes to winning a federal license? What is the status of the licenses for those operators not ultimately selected for a federal license?