Starting this past July, the German city of Bremen ordered its sports betting shops to shut down by a politician who equated the activity to money laundering. Some are finally back in business, although a handful didn’t receive permission to reopen their doors.
The exterior of an XTip sports betting shop in Germany. The city of Bremen is allowing sportsbooks to reopen, but several will remain closed. (Image: XTip)
Bremen’s senator for internal affairs, Ulrich Mäurer, announced in July and August that he wanted to close all 32 sports betting offices in the city. In his opinion, they had not convincingly explained where their founding capital came from.
On September 26, he announced that most are now going to return to the market, according to a press release. However, 14 of them failed to pass his scrutiny.
Picking Apart the Market
Since July, the Bremen regulatory office has checked thousands of pages of documents and balance sheets from sports betting agencies in Bremen. The experts from the regulatory office had backup from two delegated employees from the tax office to try to complete the exercise quickly.
At the end of last week, the regulatory office had now issued five permits. It will issue additional permits in the next few days, according to the press release.
Three out of six applications in Bremerhaven are currently under review, and there are still four applications to be examined. The 14 sports betting shops that won’t open didn’t show any indication of money laundering, according to Mäurer. However, the processing of their paperwork by the regulatory office found issues that prevent them from operating.
The office denied permission in eight cases due to “unreliability” on the part of the operator. The review determined that the operators of those shops have criminal records, which prevent them from being in the business.
In the other six cases, there were issues regarding the location of the shops. Retail sports betting stores have to be at least 250 meters (820 feet) from health centers and schools, but these didn’t measure up.
Worth The Hassle And Losses
Mäurer said the “labor-intensive inspection was worth it.” He admitted that most operators were able to confirm the legitimacy of their startup funds. He also pointed out that the office came across “dubious” people in charge when reviewing the industry. This, he said, should be cause for concern.
The German Sports Betting Association wasn’t happy with the entire ordeal. It accused the decision of being a “politically motivated arbitrary action.”
Even after it finishes issuing the permits, the regulatory office isn’t going to stop its scrutiny. The gaming supervision and the security service regularly check the sports betting offices on site.
In addition, the Bremen police investigate all indications of illegal gambling and initiate appropriate action as necessary. However, overall, it appears as though Mäurer’s link between sports betting and money laundering doesn’t exist.
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