Clarity on Legislation Governing Gambling Arcades: GÖRG Successfully Represents State Governments before the Federal Constitutional Court


[Berlin, ] In its far-reaching decision, the Federal Constitutional Court examined the legislation of three representative states governing gambling arcades for compatibility with the Basic Law (Grundgesetz) and ruled that the provisions of that legislation were constitutionally sound.

The First Senate of the of the Federal Constitutional Court today made public a leading ruling that rejected the constitutional complaints brought by operators of gambling arcades against state laws restricting the activities of gambling arcades. Despite opinions to the contrary voiced by various well-known contributors to the scholarly literature, the Court found that provisions of law governing the operation of gambling arcades in the Free State of Bavaria, the State of Berlin and the Saarland were formally and substantively in line with the Constitution. The Court found that the various states were invested with the legislative authority to adopt the provisions as they stand. The legislation also does not interfere with the rights of operators of gambling arcades to exercise the occupation of their choice, nor does it violate their property rights. There is also no violation of the principle of equality in the form of unequal treatment of casinos and restaurants on the one hand as opposed to gambling arcades on the other hand. The transitional provisions in place are also in compliance with the Constitution. The selection from among existing gambling arcades to be made by the competent authorities also meets the requirements of the principle of legality (see press release of the Federal Constitutional Court no. 27/2017 of 11 April 2017).

The decision of the Federal Constitutional Court is of significant importance for the entire body of German legislation governing gambling arcades since similar provisions are found in all other German states. The comments in the Court’s decision are therefore relevant to the legal situation throughout Germany. This final decision of the Federal Constitutional Court, which now closes and brings to an end years of controversy in respect of the constitutionality of more stringent legislation governing gambling arcades, confirmed the position taken by the states. In a model case, the highest non-constitutional court, the Federal Administrative Court, had already ruled in its judgment of 16 December 2016 that legislation governing gambling arcades in Berlin was compatible with the Constitution and European law. GÖRG also represented the government of Berlin in that case.

In an action before the Federal Constitutional Court that called for a decision of principle, GÖRG represented the governments of Berlin and the Saarland, both of which joined the constitutional complaint as parties to the proceedings. GÖRG has over the years successfully advised and represented various state governments and authorities in Germany in many other proceedings involving legislation governing gambling arcades as well as legislation pertaining to gaming in general.

Federal Constitutional Court, Decision of 7 March 2017 – Federal Constitutional Court 1 BvR 1314/12 et al.

Representatives of the State of Berlin and of the Saarland

GÖRG Partnerschaft von Rechtsanwälten mbB
Dr. Marc Schüffner, Associated Partner, Public Commercial Law, Berlin (Lead Advisor)
Dr. Julian Asmus Nebel, Associated Partner, Public Commercial Law, Berlin
Dr. Andrea Kirsch, Associated Partner, Data Protection Law, Berlin
Dr. Henning Wendt, Associate, Public Commercial Law, Hamburg

Representatives of the Operators of Gambling Arcades 
Gleiss Lutz, Stuttgart
Hengeler Müller, Düsseldorf
Redeker Sellner Dahs, Bonn 

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