The German gambling regulator, the Gemeinsamen Glücksspielbehörde der Länder (GGL), slammed Malta’s new gaming legislation on Thursday, saying it should be deemed incompatible with EU law.
In particular, according to the GGL, the new legislation violates the Recast Brussels Regulation, which regulates jurisdictions and the recognition and enforcement of judgments between EU member states.
The controversial new legislation was signed into law in June and, since then, it has seen waves of objections from the European industry as well as uncomfortable questions from the European Commission and the European Parliament.
The GGL has now entered the fray, saying it was compelled to make a statement on the matter “due to numerous inquiries” about how it was assessing Malta’s amendment to the Gaming Act, which it said was aimed at “protecting domestic gaming companies”.
In its statement, the German regulator opined that the new Maltese legislation should be “incompatible with European requirements for the recognition of decisions (Regulation 1215/2002)”.
In what seems to have been a carefully worded statement, the GGL stressed that it was not responsible for making a final assessment of Malta’s new legislation, but that it has informed the different Federal States of Germany of its assessment and that it is in touch with the relevant authorities.
It added that since the German Justice Ministry has already approached the European Commission over the contentious legislation, it “assumes proceedings will be initiated accordingly” and, as such, the GGL sees no reason to take further action, at least for the time being.
The new law provides that only Maltese courts are empowered to enforce judgments against Maltese gambling companies and that foreign judgements are to be excluded on public policy grounds.
Germany joins the chorus of pan-European objections against Malta’s amendment to its gaming laws, which was known as Bill 55. The European Parliament and European Commission are already asking the government for more information on the new law, which could be deemed anti-competitive on an EU level.
The Commission recently said it “is in the process of assessing the compatibility of the Bill with EU law and requested the Maltese authorities to provide further information”.
Once it receives and analyses its feedback from the government, the Commission said will then “decide on the appropriate follow-up steps” to be taken.
Bill No. 55, known as The Gaming Act amendment, introduced a number of changes to “codify in law the longstanding public policy of Malta encouraging the establishment of gaming operators in Malta.”
The bill provides that legal action cannot be brought against a Maltese licensee company, or officials working for a licensee company about the provision of online gaming services as licensed by the MGA. The bill also stipulates that the Maltese courts should refuse recognition or enforcement of any sentence or decision taken by a foreign court in this regard.