At the International Trade Fair for Amusement and Vending Machines Sportbetting and Sportsgaming (IMA) held between 14 – 17 January 2014 in Düsseldorf the gaming machine industry represented by the Association of the German Gaming Machine Industry (VDAI) again made it very clear that they will not back down on challenging the current gambling regulations in Germany.
These new laws, primarily the Interstate Treaty on Gambling of 2012 and the respective executive acts in the individual federal states brought severe restrictions in comparison to the previous legal regime. Where previously it was sufficient for operators of gaming halls to obtain a general trade licence for this kind of operation, a specific gambling licence is now required. Further, the new laws introduced, inter alia, the requirement for minimum distances between gaming halls, the possibility for the federal states to issue restrictions on the overall number of gaming halls allowed within a municipality, a prohibition of more than one gaming hall in one building complex, minimum closing hours, limits for number of machines per location and restrictions on offering beverages and food.
The VDAI stressed that after the transitional period which ends in 2017, the current framework would factually result in an occupational ban and that it views the Interstate Treaty on Gambling as unconstitutional and in violation of European market freedoms. These arguments were backed academically and politically by law professor Bernd Hartmann of the University Osnabrück as well as Wolfgang Kubicki of the Free Democratic Party (Liberals). Mr Kubicki is well-known in the gaming industry as he was the driving force behind the (now abolished) liberal Schleswig-Holstein regulations.
Although it clearly does not come unexpected that the VDAI opposes restrictions in relation to gaming machines this further demonstrates that the Interstate Treaty on Gambling is far off from being a regulation that private operators will even try to arrange to live with without a fight regardless whether they are from the sportsbetting, the online gaming or, now, the gaming machine sector.