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German Regulator Questions Compatibility of Malta's Gaming Law with EU Rules

The German gambling regulator, Gemeinsamen Glücksspielbehörde der Länder (GGL), has raised concerns about Malta's controversial Bill No 55, which grants protection to gaming operators by exempting them from liability for activities under their Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) licenses.

German Regulator Questions Compatibility of Malta's Gaming Law with EU Rules

GGL stated that it believes the legislation may not align with European law, particularly the Recast Brussels Regulation, which governs legal judgments across EU member states.

Although the GGL has expressed its belief that the Maltese law might not be compatible with European regulations, it clarified that it is not its responsibility to make a final determination on this matter. Historically, the European Court of Justice has held the authority to decide on the compatibility between EU and domestic laws.

While the European Commission has announced its intention to review Bill 55, the GGL's assessment comes amid ongoing disputes in Germany and Austria regarding the legality of gambling operators' activities. The law directs courts to reject the recognition or enforcement of foreign judgments against operators if the activities are within the scope of their MGA licenses.

Bill 55 has emerged as operators seek protection from liability amid legal challenges and cases related to their operations. Some operators, such as Mr Green (owned by 888) and PokerStars (owned by Flutter), have contested legal decisions that found them liable for historic losses in German and Austrian cases.

These legal disputes have prompted some lawyers to pursue lawsuits in Malta, where several gaming businesses are headquartered. The operators have argued that their activities fall under the European principle of free movement of services, a tenet of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Meanwhile, European governments and regulators point to a 2017 decision by the European Commission to close infringement procedures and complaints in the gambling sector. This decision has been cited to assert the right to restrict Malta-based gaming entities from conducting betting activities within their jurisdictions.

The GGL's assessment and the ongoing discussions between German authorities, the European Commission, and gaming operators highlight the complex interplay between national and European laws in the gambling industry. The outcome could have significant implications for gaming operators' legal standing and activities across the EU.


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