The German Sports Betting Association (DSWV) has called attention to an argument in favour of a ban on gambling advertising from a prominent federal policymaker.
Burkhard Blienert, the Federal Drug Commissioner and a member of the governing Social Democratic Party (SPD), has called for a ban on marketing of gambling, alcohol and tobacco products in public spaces, such as on television and on billboards.
As in other countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands, public health concerns and the risks associated with such products – including addiction – were cited as primary reasons.
Blienert’s statement read: “The over-presence of large-format advertising for alcohol, tobacco and e-cigarettes at kiosks and petrol stations and for gambling on television is a major construction site for German consumer protection, youth and health policy.
“Tobacco, alcohol and sports betting are far too present in public space. Something needs to change, and I will drive that change.
“The vast majority of the population no longer wants alcohol advertising, they demand a stop to all sponsorship of tobacco products or by sports betting providers in football. Politicians can no longer ignore that.”
As it stands, current laws on advertising ban the use of active athletes, officials and influencers from appearing in marketing material.
Blienert’s proposals also include a ban on sports sponsorship arrangements, not an unfamiliar concept in Germany. In his statement, the politician noted that the Gluecksspiel (GGL) federal regulator has found support for such a move in the past.
A GGL survey revealed that two-thirds of respondents supported a ban on sports betting advertising in football. Meanwhile, last year a fan football union, Unsere Kurve (‘Our Curve’), also echoed calls for a ban.
In response to Blienert’s arguments, the DSWV has noted that there has been parliamentary criticism of the proposal, pointing to a statement from Tobias Krull, a Christian Democratic Union (CDU) parliamentarian in the lander (state) legislature of Saxony-Anhalt.
The CDU politician argued that such a move would go beyond the framework of the Fourth Interstate Gambling Treaty (GlüNeuRStv) and infringe on the powers of federal states. He also asserted that a ban could compromise player protection by giving an advantage to unlicensed operators.
“Approved game and betting providers are bound by strict guidelines on youth protection and addiction prevention,” Krull’s statement began.
“If there is an advertising ban for legal offers, there is a considerable risk that unregulated gaming opportunities will be used more frequently without the appropriate support and protection mechanisms.
“We want to ensure that people with problematic addictive behaviour are recognised quickly and therefore reject the request of the federal government’s addiction commissioner.”
Krull was also critical of the proposal for a ban on sponsorship, emphasising the financial support such partnerships bring to German football clubs. The DSWV estimates the total betting industry contribution to the country’s top sports as €83m.
“The lack of advertising income would tear a serious financing gap and thus be at the expense of the sport,” Krull continued. “We will not allow that.”
The DSWV may hope that Krull’s opinions could carry more weight due to the lander of Saxony-Anhalt being the host state of the GGL and the biggest authority on gambling issues out of the 16 German federal lander (states).
This is not the first time the trade body has found itself at loggerheads with an SDP member on gambling, having strongly criticised similar calls from Ulrich Mäurer, Senator for the Interior of the State of Bremen, for a sponsorship ban.
The trading of statements between the DSWV, Blienert and Krull comes shortly after the trade association re-elected Dr Damir Böhm as its President for another five-year term.
The Tipwin CEO will serve in the leadership role of the German betting industry trade association as the market continues to adjust to the provisions of the GlüNeuRStv regime.
Post-regulatory adjustments have seen operators react to a range of new market conditions, including the establishment of the GGL as a national regulator for gambling.
Additional restrictions centred only on casino operators have included taxes based on turnover rather than profit, restrictions on bet sizes and a €1,000 monthly deposit limit. In a similar vein to other nations, however, advertising has become a focal point of debate.