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Friday, December 28, 2007

Germany Banning Internet Gambling ?!

Online gambling will be banned in Germany as of Jan 1st 2008 after German states ratified an accord that preserves the country's state monopoly for lotteries and most forms of betting.

A majority of Germany's 16 states have submitted the ratification documents, Eric Braum, a spokesman for the Hesse government, which monitors the process, said in an interview today.

All 16 state legislatures voted by mid-December to approve the new online-betting laws, which the states negotiated after the Federal Constitutional Court ruled in 2006 that the former model was unconstitutional. The new rules, which expire at the end of 2011, have drawn criticism from Internet betting companies and lottery brokers like Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG, Fluxx AG and Tipp24 AG.

The new rules ban any form of Web-based gambling or brokering of games over the Internet. The states may order Internet service providers to block Web sites of illegal betting operations and banks to stop money transfers to them. The rules definition of illegal gaming includes placing a bet from German territory over the Web with a company based outside Germany.

The regulations also will outlaw advertising of gaming over the Internet and on television. Advertising in print and other media may no longer "directly invite, incite or prompt" customers to play instead it may only "inform" about the possibility to do so.

The European Commission, the European Union's Brussels- based regulator, called on Germany to reconsider the total ban on online betting, saying the step was disproportional.

In the meantime German citizens are going to have to put up with Federal interference in their gambling habits - as the local government seeks to increase their tax take by only allowing local monopolies.