Germany: Administrative Court of Münster - No more permission for commercial lottery brokerage

By decision of July 1, 2021, the Münster Administrative Court rejected the urgent application from a company based in the Coesfeld district, which opposed the immediate revocation of its license to broker commercial games.

According to its own information, based on a license granted to it in 2018 for commercial gaming brokerage, the applicant has currently concluded gaming contracts with around 11,000 customers with an average duration of five months and a sales volume of around 3.5 million euros.

With an administrative order of June 17, 2021, the Lower Saxony Ministry of the Interior revoked the permission granted to the applicant with immediate effect and essentially cited the following as the reason: There were numerous complaints about telephone campaigns that could be attributed to the applicant. The evaluation of the complaints and the investigation files made available by the Münster public prosecutor's office on suspicion of fraud resulted in a typical pattern of action for the call centers commissioned at least indirectly by the applicant. This consists in the fact that the person concerned is called surprisingly by an employee who claims that there is in fact a non-existent contractual relationship between the person concerned and a “lottery club”. It will be explained to those affected that they had participated in lotteries as part of a free trial subscription, which has now been extended to a fee-based twelve-month contract due to failure to terminate. As a pretense of goodwill, it is offered to shorten the term of the contract to three months. After the consent has been obtained through the pressure exerted, it is pointed out that another employee will call shortly to confirm what has just been agreed. In the second phone call, a first-time contract for participation in lotteries is suggested by the first phone call, which should now be confirmed when the sound is recorded. Those affected assumed that it was about the shortening of the contractual relationship that did not actually exist as discussed in the first telephone call, and they then affirmed the conclusion of the contract upon request. As a result, those affected received a welcome letter including a certificate of attendance. The letter identifies the applicant as the sender. A direct debit from the applicant is then shown on the accounts of the persons concerned.

On the other hand, the applicant had asserted, among other things, that she did not maintain any call centers herself, which is why she was not responsible for the behavior of the employees in the call centers. Rather, she used complaints as an opportunity to end the cooperation with the call center in question.

However, the Münster Administrative Court did not follow suit and decided that the revocation of the permit was obviously lawful. The reasons for the decision include, among other things, the following: The applicant's submission in court proceedings is unable to shake either the defendant's actual findings or the applicant's unreliability in terms of gambling law, which he inferred from them. In particular, the applicant's gambling law unreliability arises from the fact that she did not intervene sufficiently against the actions of the call centers, which she was obviously aware of due to the large number of complaints and criminal proceedings initiated - 172 criminal proceedings were on record in the administrative processes alone. Just the fact The fact that the applicant's managing director had repeatedly been summoned to police questioning over the course of several years and that the allegations in the individual criminal proceedings were almost identical, thus clearly showing a pattern, should have prompted her to rethink the concept of commissioning external call centers and to initiate legal action against them if necessary Regardless of this, from a realistic point of view, it seems far-fetched that all of the commissioned call centers happened to show the same inadequacies in the conduct of calls over the course of several years. This circumstance is more likely to justify the suspicion expressed by the defendant that this is also a systematic approach taken by the applicant herself.

A complaint against the decision can be lodged with the Higher Administrative Court for the State of North Rhine-Westphalia within two weeks.

The verdict will soon be available in the case law database published.

Ref .: 9 L 433/21 - not legally binding)

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