German sportsbook customers of William Hill subsidiary Mr Green will be looking for a new place to place their bets on sports and esports games after the parent company closed the Mr Green Sportsbook in German with immediate effect.
The news broke after it emerged that the affiliates of Mr Green in Germany had been sent an email, advising them that the company was ceasing all sports betting (as well as esports betting) activities in Germany with immediate effect.
The email read:
“Due to recent gambling regulation changes in Germany, Mr Green is closing all. Germany sports betting operations with immediate effect. We kindly ask you to remove all sportsbook content from your German marketing channels as soon as possible.”
Further to that email, William Hill issued a further statement which clarified their position.
“We continually review the legal situation regarding our presence in different markets,” the email read. “and this decision has been taken in the light of the latest advice regarding Germany.”
Interstate Gambling Treaty
The decision comes after all 16 German states agreed to a new and updated version of the Interstate Gambling Treaty back in March 2019.
The changes to the treaty meant that sports betting operators would be licensed for a period of two years, after which a brand-new regulatory framework that covers all gambling would be ratified and come into operation.
The amendment to the treaty meant that a previous cap of 20 licenses on sports betting had been removed and it also extended the ‘experimental phase’ of allowing sports betting online, through to the 30th June 2021.
However, the decision by Mr Green seems to be linked to the actions by the state of Hesse, which issues the licensing of sports betting operators as per the terms of the treaty. The state announced that any company interested in qualifying for a sports betting license to operate in Germany,would have to cease any online casino operations to be considered.
This is because online casino gaming is still illegal in Germany under the terms of the Interstate Gambling Treaty.
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For companies such as William Hill, Mr Green, bet365 and others, this meant that they would have to forego offering their casino products to German customers, if they were to offer sports betting services in the country.
While William Hill and Mr Green have decided to pull out of the market altogether, with clear ramifications for both sports betting and esports betting in Germany for their customers, other companies have decided to follow the regulations set out in the treaty.
Bet365, for example, announced in December 2019 that they would switch off all their casino products, bet365 Casino, bet365 Vegas and bet365 Games, to German customers and would instead offer only bet365 Sports to German-based customers.
While it is possible that a number of other providers could elect to drop out of the German market, Hesse has confirmed that it has received 11 applications from interested operators thus far after the window for applications opened in January 2020.
Image courtesy of Mr Green