GGL asks for Criminal Code changes to be reconsidered

Glücksspielbehörde (GGL), the Federal Gambling Authority of Germany, has detailed its concerns regarding impending changes to the Strafgesetzbuch (StGB), the Criminal Code of Germany.

Speaking at the Lotto Talk event in Berlin, GGL Co-President Ronald Benter disclosed that the authority had issued an appeal to the Federal Ministry of Justice to ‘reconsider amendments to the Criminal Code’.

The Ministry of Justice has been implored to abandon amendments that would alter the current provisions enabling the application of Article 284 of the StGB.

Article 284 of the Criminal Code permits federal authorities to directly collaborate with the Staatsanwaltschaft, the Public Prosecution Office of Germany, to initiate criminal investigations into entities suspected of violating federal laws.

In his address, Benter stated that the provision was a crucial tool for the GGL to counteract illegal gambling conducted by foreign unlicensed operators.

Nevertheless, the Ministry of Justice has been tasked with revising StGB regulations concerning the initiation of criminal procedures for offenses that involve international laws.

In February, Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann announced that the Criminal Code would be revised “to close gaps in criminal liability and ensure that the Code aligns with the corresponding norms of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”

Amendments have prompted the Ministry of Justice to integrate the procedures of the ICC Rome Statute into domestic law, affecting the way Article 284 is activated or implemented by federal authorities.

The GGL contends that altering the clause will significantly diminish its ability to fight illegal gambling operations based overseas, which could adversely affect broader policies aimed at preventing money laundering.

Benter suggests that instead of excising the clause, the legislation should be modified to categorically include the power to prosecute illegal gambling operators situated abroad, as a means to deter illicit gambling activities by foreign companies.

“We would like the Federal Ministry of Justice to reconsider the planned reform and instead insist that the clause be broadened to encompass illegal gambling providers based abroad. The potential for criminal prosecution abroad will serve as a deterrent to illegal operators overseas,” Benter stated.

“The GGL Board of Directors emphasized that, from the GGL’s viewpoint, the current debate over whether German criminal law is applicable to gambling providers based abroad could be settled with an explicit clarification in the existing legal standards.”

The ICC’s Rome Statute was expanded in 2021 and 2022 to furnish 122 nations with a judicial framework for prosecuting organized crime on an international scale. The statute promotes and facilitates cooperation among judicial courts on organized money laundering, human trafficking, environmental crimes, tax fraud, counterfeit goods, and digital crime.