SBC News Lottoland lambasts GGL ‘state protectionism’ after ISP blocking request

Lottoland lambasts GGL ‘state protectionism’ after ISP blocking request

Lottoland has accused the German gambling regulator of “creating facts” to protect the state lottery after being singled out for enforcement actions.

The Glücksspielaufsicht der Länder (GGL) has been targeting Lottoland since July, citing prohibition of betting on state lottery outcomes under the Fourth Interstate Gambling Treaty (GlüNeuRStv).

Defending its German operations, Lottoland has argued that the regulator’s request for the country’s three main ISPs to block access to the Lottoland.com and lottohelden.de sites goes against EU law and EUKOM and ECJ policies.

“Blocking orders are generally prohibited vis-à-vis providers in the protected area of the free movement of services in Europe,” a Lottoland statement read.

Criticising both the GGL and GlüNeuRStv framework, Lottoland added that the latter has liberalised the German betting and gaming market with the exception of lotteries. 

The firm argued that these legislations serve to protect the monopoly of the state lottery contrary to EU law, stating that Germany is ‘characterised by protectionism’ of this status quo.

In response to the GGL’s assertion that Lottoland has “offered illegal gambling for years” in Germany, the group has further pointed to its permit applications in the country since 2017.

The group stated that it set up Lottoland Deutschland GmbH in 2020 ‘specifically for this purpose’, adding that it has also been paying tax in Germany throughout its operational history.

“It is obvious that the state-owned GGL wants to create facts on behalf of the state lottery companies and federal states in order to protect the ultimately remaining lottery monopoly and to eliminate competitors in the lottery sector – for purely fiscal reasons,” the company’s statement continued.

Lastly, Lottoland maintained that the GGL itself ‘does not seem to be convinced about the legality’ of its actions – citing a statement from GGL CEO Benjamin Schwanke which predicted that ‘our actions will be subject to judicial review’ – whilst also pointing to pushback against the blocking orders by ISPs.

The group’s overall position is that its services are not illegal due to being based on EU freedom of services, adding that no German ISPs have blocked the firm and no former order has been issued, only a request. 

Lottoland said that it will defend its case with ‘state liability suits in the three-digit million range’, with its Maltese companies having initiated lawsuits against prohibition orders before the Darmstadt and Hanover courts, which are still ongoing.

“The lottery betting bans are quite obviously not compatible with European law. It speaks for itself that the federal states’ and lottery companies’ own advisors have already determined this in an expert opinion in 2019,” Lottoland’s statement concluded.

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