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German betting market to open up as ECJ rules monopoly as unfair

Europe's biggest and richest market, Germany, looks set for deregulation after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) yesterday ruled that "German rules do not limit games of choice in a consistent and systematic manner". The court stressed that "the holders of public monopolies carry out intensive advertising campaigns with a view to maximise profit from lotteries thereby departing from the objectives justifying the existence of those monopolies."

Germany was a messy legal and regulatory system in relation to online gambling, as provincial governments held different attitudes toward the industry. Some licences existed in the days of East and West Germany, which the unified nation refused to recognise but the licenceholders (or those who had bought into them from outside Germany) were prepared to take them to court.

Real Madrid and AC Milan had recently been either fined or forced to wear alternative strips to avoid prosecution from local authorities. Now it's a whole new ball game with the big players such as BWin/Party Gaming, Betfair, Expekt and Unibet expected to dive into the market with football sponsorship rather swiftly.

What will the government do - will they go down the line of a protectionist, (initially at least) unviable model such as in France, or a more modern approach like the proposed Danish model, which encourages competition and recognises the standards of operation in other EU member states?

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