Germany’s GGL Expresses Concern over Malta’s Controversial Gaming Law

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The German gambling regulator, Gemeinsamen Glücksspielbehörde der Länder (GGL), has expressed concerns over Malta’s Bill No. 55, saying it believes the legislation “should not be compatible” with European law.

The controversial bill, signed into law by Malta’s president George Vella in June, is designed to protect gambling operators from liability for their MGA-licensed activities.

GGL Will Not Take Action

The GGL’s concerns revolve around the Recast Brussels Regulation, a 2013 European law that governs legal judgments between EU member states. One of the world's most respected gaming regulators has, however, clarified that it’s not within its purview to determine whether the law is in line with European legislation or not.

The European Commission stated last month that it would examine Bill 55, but historically, decisions on the relationship between the EU and domestic law have rested with the European Court of Justice.

The GGL has communicated its assessment to the German federal states and is in contact with the relevant authorities. Since the German Ministry of Justice has already approached the European Commission, the GGL said that it does “not see any reason to take action beyond this.” The regulator added, “We, therefore, assume that proceedings will be initiated accordingly.”

The Conflict between Bill 55 and EU Law

Bill 55 aims to protect gambling operators from liability stemming from their MGA-licensed grey market activities. This includes ordering courts to reject foreign judgments against these businesses when the activities fall under their license.

Related: Malta to Protect Its iGaming Industry from Foreign Claim with Bill 55

The bill follows several German and Austrian legal cases questioning the legality of gambling operators’ regional activities. Cases in both countries found that operators could be sued by players for all historic losses, leading to disputes with companies like 888-owned Mr Green, William Hill, and Flutter-owned PokerStars.

The operators often assert that their activities are covered under the European free movement of services, referring to the Treaty for the Functioning of the European Union. European governments and regulators, on the other hand, point to a 2017 decision by the European Commission, arguing that this ruling grants them the right to block Malta-based businesses from accepting bets within their jurisdictions.

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