The social mandate of the GGL is to combat illegal gambling in order to protect players and minors from gambling and betting addiction and gambling manipulation. One of several instruments in the fight against illegal gambling is IP blocking.
In a letter to all internet service providers, the GGL has announced that the authority will request the blocking of unauthorised gambling offers. Network blocking/IP Blocking is an enforcement tool that is used when unauthorised gambling providers do not stop their illegal gambling offers despite a prohibition order. Network blocking can be implemented either non-formally in cooperative cooperation or within the framework of administrative proceedings.
The authority's letter of notification was intended, on the one hand, to sensitise the internet service providers to the work of the GGL and to inform them of the assumption of responsibility for combating illegal gambling on the internet and advertising for it on 1 July 2022. On the other hand, the authority specifically offered to implement the implementation of the network blocks through direct communication between the GGL and the internet service providers in the first step instead of the formal administrative procedure.
Since the authority received a number of enquiries on this, the most important questions and answers on the subject are summarised below:
It is normal administrative action that authorities first offer the addressee to comply with a request in a non-formal process before initiating the formal, chargeable administrative act. This has already worked very well in the past.
GGL follows a cooperative approach with eye-to-eye discussions. This does not mean that a provider should carry out blockings "on demand", but that the GGL explains to the person concerned the legal basis from which his obligation arises, as well as the previous action against the illegal gambling provider. In addition, the various possibilities for implementing the blocking will be discussed.
Of course, the internet service providers are free to refuse this offer and only act within the framework of a formal administrative procedure. This administrative act can be reviewed in court.
If the Internet service provider does not comply with the formal request to block an illegal gambling offer, the GGL can impose a correspondingly threatened penalty payment, which is also based on the economic capacity of the addressee and can amount to up to €500,000.
The enforcement instrument of network blocks/IP blocking of illegal gambling offers is provided for in the State Treaty on Gambling 2021 if unauthorised gambling providers do not comply with the formal prohibition order or if measures against them are not feasible or not promising.
The legal basis for the call for network blocking/ IP blocking of illegal gambling providers is the State Treaty on Gambling (GlüStV) 2021, which was ratified by 16 state parliaments representing the entire German population and standardised as state law. It provides for network blocks as a permissible means in the fight against illegal gambling. In other neighbouring European countries, network blocking is used as an adequate means to combat illegal gambling.
The aim is to protect players and minors from gambling addiction and gambling manipulation by only allowing gambling offers on the internet that comply with the requirements of the GlüStV 2021.
In addition to the GlüStV 2021, the legal basis is also the Law on Public Safety and Order of the State of Saxony-Anhalt (SOG LSA).
GlüStV 2021 § 9 para. 1 sentence 3 no. 5 states that after prior notification of unauthorised gambling offers, measures to block these offers shall be taken against service providers responsible within the meaning of §§ 8 to 10 of the Telemedia Act, in particular access intermediaries and registrars, if measures against an organiser or intermediary of this gambling prove to be impracticable or not promising. These measures may also be taken if the unauthorised gambling offer is inextricably linked to further content.
Accordingly, the access intermediaries (= access providers or internet service providers) can be ordered to block the (internet) access to the gambling offers they provide if the legal requirements are met.
The legal basis for the threat and setting of penalty payments is §§ 54, 56, 59 (SOG LSA). According to these, periodic penalty payments can be imposed up to an amount of €500,000. This is state law, which applies pursuant to § 27a para. 3 GlüStV 2021.
How is the amount of the penalty payment calculated?
The calculation of the individually determined periodic penalty payments takes into account economically relevant factors, such as the financial capacity of an addressee.
The legal basis for the levying of administrative costs is derived from Section 9a (4) sentences 6 and 7 GlüStV 2021 in conjunction with. §§ 1 para. 1 sentence 1, 5 para. 1, 14 Administrative Costs Act of the State of Saxony-Anhalt (VwKostG LSA). The fee framework results directly from Section 9a (4) GlüStV 2021.
Digital freedoms are a valuable asset that must be protected. We are aware that network blocking represents an encroachment on the fundamental rights of providers, suppliers and users. The social mission of the GGL is to fight illegal gambling in order to protect players and minors from gambling and betting addiction and game manipulation. Against this background, we consider these interventions to be justified and thus permissible. They meet the requirements of proportionality. We have also taken into account the relevant European regulations, in particular the freedom of service and freedom of establishment and the requirements for net neutrality. Here, too, we come to the conclusion that these are not violated by blocking the illegal offerings. The proposal we have submitted does not stand in the way of a judicial review of our views. Those affected can have their rights reviewed by the courts.
GGL is working towards finding a solution that is as pragmatic as possible for all parties. The authority will develop a concrete procedure together with the internet service providers. The specific providers of illegal gambling will be communicated to the internet service providers in a suitable manner so that a technical implementation is made possible with as little effort as possible for the internet service providers.