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bwin welcomes judgement by German court

23 Nov 2010

VIENNA, Austria -- (PRESS RELEASE) –- Following previous judgements in February 2008 and July 2010, the Federal Supreme Court - Germany's highest civil court in legal proceedings between Westdeutsche Lotterie GmbH & Co OHG ("Westlotto") and bwin, the world's largest publicly listed online gaming provider - has today once again ruled that Westlotto cannot obtain injunctive relief against online gaming offerings. This verdict puts an end to a legal dispute that has lasted six years. "We welcome the judgement by the German Federal Supreme Court, and are glad that we will have to spend less of our time in courtrooms in the future. Now we can concentrate on developing modern regulations for online gaming in Germany," commented Norbert Teufelberger, Co-CEO of bwin.

Court allows appeal

In September 2004, Westlotto applied for an injunction against bwin International Ltd., seeking to prevent the company from organizing, mediating and advertising sports betting, casino and lottery games in Germany. In February 2006 the Regional Court of Cologne ruled in favour of Westlotto at the first instance. In September 2007, the judgment by the court of first instance was upheld by the Higher Regional Court of Cologne, whereupon bwin lodged an appeal against this judgment with the Federal Supreme Court, which allowed this appeal in today's judgement.

Courts cannot take the place of political decisions

Due to the fact that 95 per cent of gaming revenues in Germany are generated by unregulated providers, the State Treaty on gaming must be regarded as a failure. The treaty justifies the state monopoly by claiming that "gaming addiction is a danger to the general public and only the state (offline) monopoly is capable of channelling people's natural gambling urges." However, the objective of effectively preventing gaming addiction can be achieved only by a licensing model in which the granting of licences is linked to compliance with suitable standards of gambler protection.

Need for licensing model based on other European states

A regulated market is both to the benefit of the state and in the interests of the consumer, since both state and private providers are given access to the market under stringent conditions and subject to independent controls. In Germany, as in Italy, a licensing model would lead to the consolidation of the market, as a consequence of which a handful of licensed providers would operate more than 90 per cent of the market, effectively suppressing the black market, whilst at the same time ensuring a high level of protection for the consumer.

bwin optimistic: politicians realize need for action

"It is high time, and in the interests of all those involved, to prepare the way for the modern regulation of online gaming in Germany. We are optimistic that Germany will follow the example of other European states like Italy and France," continued Teufelberger. Like the United Kingdom, both these states have regulated the opening-up of their markets in such a way as to take into account both market circumstances and the need for gamer protection and combating fraud. Norbert Teufelberger: "We shall continue to constructively support the positive regulation of online gaming, contributing the extensive know-how that we have acquired, not least as a licensed provider in newly regulated markets like Italy and France."
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