German Online Casino Providers Ordered To Cease Advertising

In the state of Saarland, two online casino providers licenced by the German state of Schleswig-Holstein were ordered to stop advertising their services.

The Saarland media regulator Landesmedienanstalt (LMS) announced on Wednesday that it had instructed “two market-strong providers of online casino games with a license from the state of Schleswig-Holstein” to stop promoting their products on television channels in Saarland. The announcement did not name the offenders.

Way back in 2012, Schleswig-Holstein granted a variety of domestic and international gaming operators online casino, poker and sports betting licences. At the time, the 15 other states in Germany backed a federal plan that allowed only online sports betting, leading to legal jostling over whether gamblers in those other states could access online casinos in Schleswig-Holstein.

A year ago, Schleswig-Holstein renewed its online casino licences, and the LMS noted that the State had originally: “guaranteed the limitation of advertising” for its online casinos. “In practice, from the LMS point of view, this limitation is no longer noticeable.”

The LMS says online casino advertisements appear in “a far too large number of private TV programs,” even during time-windows where large numbers of children and teenagers “are particularly vulnerable.” LMS director Ruth Meyer, who assumed her position on May 1, said her organisation had no choice but to interfere.

It’s unclear what kind of bite the LMS will add to its bark, as it’s not the first time the regulator has raised this subject. Meyer ‘s predecessor, Uwe Conradt, lamented last September that online casinos at Schleswig-Holstein had “massively endangered” the fight against problem gambling across Germany.

Like Meyter, Conradt claimed to have obtained reassurances from officials in Schleswig-Holstein that online casino advertising would only be screened on regional television and not on national broadcasts. And yet we are here.

Earlier this year, all 16 states eventually decided on a new federal compact that would allow for a wide variety of online items, but with strict limitations on slot stakes and in-play sports betting, among other constraints that many German-facing operators believe would sandbag the controlled market before it goes off.

This new proposal hit a legal speedbump in April when an Austrian bookmaker persuaded a court that there was lack of accountability in Germany’s online licencing process. Officials in the state of Hesse, which oversees the licencing process, insist that this hitch will not undo their schedule for launching the regulated online market by 1 July 2021. Then again, licence applicants were also told to shut down their German-faced online casinos, and look at how it worked out.