The German Association of Telecommunications and Media (DVTM) has completed a fresh self-regulatory model for advertising by Schleswig-Holstein licensed gambling operators on the nation’s free-to-air TV channels.
The decision was arrived at during negotiations between the DVTM, the federal advertising association Zentralband der deutschen Werbewirtschaft (ZAW) and the state Ministry of the Interior. The new regulation limits the state’s online casino licensees to 17,000 minutes of air time per month.
That would ensure a proportional representation of online casino providers in TV ad, the DVTM, which counts 8 of the state’s 11 licensees among its members, said.
The allocation of air time to gambling advertising was determined using the Königstein key (Königsteiner Schlüssel), a formula use to determine the resources that go to each German state. It is calculated based on tax revenue from a particular industry and population.
In the case of gambling advertising, it’s designed to ensure the adverts shown in Schleswig-Holstein – the only state in which online casino is currently legal – at least corresponds to or surpasses the number shown countrywide.
The DVTM added that it keeps an eye on advertising by members using neutral media data sources, and constantly shares this info with Schleswig-Holstein authorities. The association will take action should its members go beyond the agreed 17,000 minute limit.
Dr. Andreas Blaue of German sports media business Sport1 Medien, who negotiated the new agreement together with DVTM president Renatus Zilles as well as leading German gambling lawyer Dr. Wulf Hambach, said the self-regulatory framework was “strictly logical”.
Advertising by Schleswig-Holstein operators could easily be checked using Nielsen Media Research data, he continued.
“Absolute transparency and fairness are thus maintained for all parties, and it has already led to the advertising time for licensed online casinos from Schleswig-Holstein on national television having been significantly reduced since 2019,” he said.
“[Furthermore, advertising] and has not increased during the [novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.”
Schleswig-Holstein operators had initially been criticized by regulatory bodies, including the advertising watchdog in the state of Saarland, Landesmedienanstalt Saarland (LMS). In September 2019, LMS director Uwe Conradt claimed that the licensees were flouting regulations by broadcasting on national channels, despite their content only being legal in one state.
Last month, LMS then banned two Schleswig-Holstein licensees from advertising in the state. However, DVTM president Renatus Zilles criticized claims that gambling advertising was on the rise, explaining tht this was being pushed by competing sectors such as the land-based gaming machine segment.
Zilles admitted that it had “unfortunately” been accepted as fact by legislators, but argued that these claims only served to negatively affect the online sector and consumers.
“Finding pragmatic, responsible solutions with one another instead of fighting against each other is the guiding principle of our association,” Zilles said. “This solution could serve as a model for regulating advertising under the future State Treaty on Gambling.”
Germany’s gambling industry is in a state of uncertainty following the third amended State Treaty on Gambling, which would have opened up the market to sportsbook firms, was effectively derailed by legal issues.
While this literally should limit the market to online sports betting only, fresh developments in Hesse suggest that a number of regulators may take a more tolerant position.
Court proceedings in a challenge to a ban order given by that state’s Regional Council of Darmstadt, the body responsible for licensing and enforcement under the third Treaty, were stopped to let the parties involved to negotiate a compromise.
That may set a precedent for allowing firms to provide online casino plus sports betting, with the fourth State Treaty, the Glücksspielneuregulierungstaatsvertrag, to open up the market to all verticals and products.
In August 2019, a report estimated that gambling ad spend in Germany spiked to €401m for the year to May 31 2019, driven predominantly by online casino firms. These operators had increased spending by €70m year-on-year, with state lotteries accounting for only 10% of total spend.