OVG Rhineland-Palatinate: Private sports betting still permitted for the time being

The brokering of private sports betting is provisionally allowed under conditions that serve to combat gambling addiction. This was decided by the Higher Administrative Court of Rhineland-Palatinate in Koblenz.

The Supervisory and Service Directorate (Aufsichts- und Dienstleistungsdirektion) had prohibited the Bad Kreuznach-based applicant from brokering sports bets with immediate effect. The administrative court rejected the application to order the suspensive effect of the objection against the prohibition order. The appeal filed against this was successful: The Higher Administrative Court allowed the applicant to continue to offer sports betting until the decision in the main case. Thus, the Higher Administrative Court changed its previous case law (cf. press releases Nos. 38/2006 and 21/2007) on the basis of the State Gambling Treaty and the State Gambling Act, which entered into force on 1 January 2008. A decision on a further 59 complaints will be made shortly.

The prohibition of private sports betting, which was intended to secure the monopoly of Lotto Rheinland-Pfalz GmbH, would only be lawful as an encroachment on the professional freedom of the other betting brokers if the Land of Rhineland-Palatinate had implemented the requirements of the State Treaty on Gambling to combat gambling addiction. According to this treaty, the federal states would have to limit the number of betting shops and restrict advertising to information and education about the possibility of gambling. A concept for limiting the number of sales outlets, which still had to be drawn up by the state according to the State Gaming Act (LGlüG), could not be enforced against Lotto Rheinland-Pfalz GmbH. This was because the state had no decisive influence on Lotto Rheinland-Pfalz GmbH after it had been prohibited by the Federal Cartel Office from taking over the majority of the shares. In addition, the advertising of Lotto Rheinland-Pfalz GmbH went beyond what was still permissible in terms of information and clarification. In connection with the 2008 European Football Championship, among other things, there had been targeted invitations to participate in gambling.

However, the provisional permission to broker sports betting by private providers could only be granted under conditions that served to combat gambling addiction. In particular, the private betting agent was not allowed to accept sports bets from minors, persons recognisably at risk of gambling addiction or over-indebted persons. A notice on the dangers of gambling addiction must be displayed in a suitable place in the business premises. Furthermore, any advertising for the brokering of sports bets is inadmissible. Finally, the betting broker must tolerate unannounced inspections by the authorities on his premises.

Decision of the Higher Administrative Court of Rhineland-Palatinate of 18 August 2008 - Case no. 6 B 10338/08.OVG

Source: Press release No.38/2008 of the Media Office of the Higher Administrative Court of Rhineland-Palatinate

Attorney at Law Michael Ullrich, LL.M. (Information Law)

E-mail: mailto:m.ullrich@goldberg.de