The state monopoly on gambling in Germany is 'unjustifiable' and must be broken up at once, the European Union's top court ruled on Wednesday. The court said the gambling laws were being applied inconsistently.
Only Germany's states can offer gambling services under current law
The German government's monopoly on most forms of gambling must be ended immediately, according to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. The court ruled that "the German rules do not limit games of chance in a consistent and systematic manner." It said that the state the monopoly is not justifiable.
Under German law, only the country's 16 federal states or companies run by them can offer gambling services. The state therefore has an effective monopoly on gambling and lotteries. The law also bans most Web-based betting, and forbids advertising such services.
The German State Treaty on Gambling came into force in 2008 to curb a growing trend in gambling addiction. Critics say it simply ensured that the state received a substantial chunk of the revenue from gambling.
Internet betting agencies based abroad
A number of private betting companies have challenged the treaty, saying it is inconsistent, because the federal states do not hold a monopoly on certain forms of gambling like slot machines and casinos. Numerous Internet users place bets illegally with private online companies registered abroad, which tend to offer better odds.
Author: Joanna Impey (AFP/dpa)
Editor: Chuck Penfold