Just days after the German state of Schleswig-Holstein issued its first three internet gambling licences, the early results from the state’s elections on Sunday (6 May 2012) suggest that there will be no greater certainty about the regulatory status of internet gambling in Schleswig-Holstein in the coming months.

The three licences were issued to Betfair, Jaxx, and Oddest for sports betting by the previous coalition government. This coalition was made up of the Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Liberal Democrats (FDP). The opposition party, the Social Democrats (SPD), have been strongly opposed to internet gambling regulation and indicated in the run up to the election that they would repeal Schleswig-Holstein’s regional gambling act which was passed in October 2011. 

Provisional results from the election suggest the SPD could form the next government. No party has an outright majority.
The predicted number of seats won by each party is as follows:
CDU: 22 seats
SPD: 22 seats
Greens: 10 seats
FDP: 6 seats
Pirates: 6 seats
SSW: 3 seats
The role of the Green party could be vital in determining the nature of the new coalition. 35 seats are needed for a working majority of one vote. The CDU and FDP only have 28 seats combined. 
Early on Sunday evening it appeared the most likely coalition was the SPD, Greens, and SSW, although other permutations were also suggested. The CDU angered the Danish minority during the election campaign with one of its posters, so the SSW might be reluctant to work with the CDU.
A SPD-Green-SSW grouping would have a total of 35 seats. Mathematically this is a working majority but not a strong one in terms of getting things done. The SPD’s Torsten Albig, however, believes such a coalition would work.
For the internet gambling operators their best interests are served by a CDU-led coalition. 
After all, it was the CDU that introduced internet gambling regulation in Schleswig-Holstein. An SPD-led government, based on previous comments from the party on internet gambling, would not be conducive to a good operating environment and would likely lead to further legal challenges and regulatory confusion.
There are a further 37 applications pending (23 for sports betting and 14 for online casinos) for licences that are currently due to run until 2018.
 “The gambling licences issued by Schleswig-Holstein could be some of the shortest awarded in history if the SPD forms the next government. The three operators might argue that they have been awarded licences until 2018 but governments make the rules and can reposition the regulatory goalposts to suit their agenda. If the SPD really wishes to repeal the regulation, nullify or restrict the licences it will find a way to do so,” argued Global Betting and Gaming Consultants’ Director Lorien Pilling. 
“The e-gaming sector desperately needs some regulatory certainty in Germany, not just in Schleswig-Holstein. Unfortunately, Schleswig-Holstein’s election results have seemingly confused matters in the one German region where internet gambling regulation had at least been passed.” 

Further updates as details emerge – Sunday 6 May