Hessen: Practice is ahead of the Concession Granting Process

The Hesse Ministry of the Interior responsible for the nationwide concession proceedings set the entire process to zero in November 2013. Lawyers specialized in sports betting and providers analyze the legal development and the current practice situation. Despite all obstacles one thing is clear: bets and betting shops are part of everyday life now. Whether the industry is going to pull together, is uncertain. This shows an example of mutual association work.

The granting of the nationwide sports betting licenses by the responsible Hesse Ministry of the Interior turns more and more into a farce and probably to a never ending story.

In fall, it was stated that from the 41 candidates who were already in the second stage of application, the Ministry had invited 14 providers to a personal presentation. According to information by the Ministry, these providers had already fulfilled the minimal requirements.

“A final review of the applications of all applicants who had been admitted to the second stage has been carried out in course of the concession granting process”, the Ministry stated in an email dated 15 November 2013, quoted by “Juve”, a publishing house for legal information: “It was found that […] none of the applicants were able to show compliance with the minimal requirements […] in an auditable manner,” the Ministry announced.

Thus, the second stage of the proceedings was set to zero. According to the Hesse Ministry of the Interior, the companies are to receive information about what is to be rectified by January 2014. “The (legal) situation is unclear and unsatisfactory: the new Interstate Treaty on Gambling has already existed for one and a half years, yet still no nationwide concessions were granted,” Dr. Wulf Hambach, Munich lawyer and expert on gambling law stated.
The providers did not know when they were to receive a concession. “Due to the legal ambiguities there is a lack of predictability. The conditions are hostile to the market: five percent tax on turnover, restrictive advertising regulations, prohibition of parallel casino offers”, Dr. Hambach listed the atrocities. Originally, a maximum of twenty concessions were intended to be issued by spring 2013.

“The granting of the licenses, if at all, can only be expected in the course of the year 2014. Since the tender is little transparent and open to criticism, further subsequent proceedings before the administrative courts also seem likely”, says Mirko Benesch, lawyer and partner of the law firmMorawe, Benesch, Winkler in Freiburg.

Dr. Hambach also assumes: “Until all twenty concessions are granted, it will probably take at least another year; if not a sensible legal regulation is met before.”

The lawyer also points to another legal issue: “The relation to the licences from Schleswig-Holstein is unclear. Finally, there is considerable evidence that the provisions of the new Interstate Treaty on Gambling are incoherent and thus contrary to European law. ”