German State Passes Online Poker Laws

The German state of Schleswig-Holstein has become the first of the country’s 16 states to legalize and regulate online gaming, potentially paving the way for the other federated states or Länder to follow suit.
Up until now, local German authorities with the power to regulate gambling in their regions have instead chosen to ban online gambling. However, this was seen as in opposition to EU online gambling free trade agreements, while in the meantime a large percentage of an estimated 2.2 million German online gamblers have continued to wager online via offshore gambling sites.
Germany’s current ‘States Treaty on Gambling’ allows the state to maintain a monopoly on sports betting and lotteries, while upholding a states-wide ban on internet gambling activities. However, this State Treaty is due to expire on December 31, 2011, after which he German state of Schleswig-Holstein’s gambling law will come into force.
Key elements to the new law include issuing an unlimited number of licenses to companies allowing online exchange and sports betting, as well casino games and poker, although roulette, blackjack and baccarat will not be permitted. In return a 20% tax on gross profits will be collected by the state. 
Following the news, shares in he world’s biggest online gambling firm bwin.party soared by 13% to 129 pence. Bwin.party has a strong representation in the German betting market, with 23% of its €827m (£725m) revenues derived from this country.
Shares in British online gambling site Betfair also rose 2% to 722 pence, with a statement from the company stating:
“Betfair is committed to participating in the online gambling market in Germany, ready and willing to pay taxes there and offer German consumers competitive, innovative and safe products.”
“The resolution passed today is an important and groundbreaking step on the way to an open and regulated gambling market in Germany. We are now hopeful that the other 15 German States will make the regulated amendments to their proposed State Treaty, in order to bring it into line with EU law.”

Other news:   New York online poker bill introduced

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