Lottoland prepared to sue German regulator over IP blocking order
Lottoland has threatened to take legal action against the blocking of its IP addresses by the new German gaming regulator.
On Friday (8 July), the Gemeinsame Glücksspielbehörde der Länder (GGL) announced that it had issued blocking orders against Lottoland in its fight against unlicensed websites.
In response to iGaming NEXT’s request for comment, Lottoland said it would defend itself “with all legal means, including state liability suits”, as it views the blocking orders unlawful in light of its right to provide services across borders in the EU.
The Lottoland group holds various licences from European countries, including Great Britain, Ireland, Sweden and Malta.
However, the company, which operates the websites lottoland.de and lottohelden.de, is not on Germany’s whitelist of approved gambling operators.
Moreover, lottery betting products are not permitted under Germany’s current gambling law, the GGL said when justifying the blocking orders.
While Germany’s Fourth Interstate Treaty on Gambling paved the way for a regulated gambling market in 2021, the German state still has a monopoly on lottery.
Germany’s lottery betting bans “are quite obviously not compatible with European law,” commented Laura Pearson, VP of corporate affairs at Lottoland.
Pearson pointed out that the federal states’ own advisers and lottery companies had already determined this in an expert opinion in 2019.
Lottoland’s Laura Pearson: “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.”
In addition, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has consistently called for “coherence” in the regulation of gambling since 2004, and lottery betting does not pose any dangers that could justify a general ban, according to Pearson.
“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, ” she added.
Lottoland highlighted that it is “willing to regulate and has been demonstrably seeking German permits since 2017”.
The group, which is based in Gibraltar, said it had decided in 2019 “to transform its offer into the brokerage of state lotteries permitted in Germany”.
In 2020, Lottoland Deutschland GmbH was founded and applied for the relevant permits with the then responsible federal authorities; for lottery brokerage in Lower Saxony, virtual machine games in Saxony-Anhalt and for sports betting in Hesse.
However, Lottoland’s applications have neither been approved nor rejected to date, and the licensing process is “still ongoing”.
Irrespective of the application process, the Maltese Lottoland companies are suing against prohibition orders before the administrative courts of Darmstadt and Hanover. However, judgments are still pending in those cases as well, the group said.
Moreover, Lottoland said it had been paying taxes in Germany for years.