September 12, 2008

Internet bookie bwin loses German court case

Internet bookmaker has lost a regional court case in the aftermath of Germany's crackdown on online betting, Germany's state lottery said on Thursday, sending bwin shares down 7 percent.

In the case before a Cologne court, bwin had requested suspension of the immediate execution of a ban on Internet gambling issued by Germany's states, pending a Federal Court ruling on the issue.

The Cologne court rejected the suspension request, the state lottery in the state of North-Rhine Westfalia, Westlotto, said in a statement. Bwin now faces fines if it does not oblige the ban, the lottery said.

The case in Cologne related to bwin's international offering, not that of its German affiliate bwin e.K., to which bwin's marketing in the country directs German customers.

Bwin confirmed the court decision but said it would continue to offer its betting and gambling services despite the ruling. It reiterated its view that Germany's ban on Internet gambling violated European Union rules and it will continue to challenge it in courts.

The main court case before one of Germany's highest courts which will decide whether the ban on Internet gambling is legal is not expected to end before 2009, bwin said.

Bwin shares pared losses but still traded down 5.8 percent at 19 euros by 1516 GMT.

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