Austrian bookmaker bwin won part of its case in a regional German court and can offer sports bets to most of the country with a few exceptions on Thursday. Most importantly, the court said it can offer Internet bets.

The company, embroiled in legal quagmire with several German states, can continue to operate in the former Communist East Germany under a licence issued days before German reunification in 1990, according to the court in the German state of Saxony.

The court ruled that this licence also covered arranging bets over the Internet, a decision which could undermine German plans to outlaw Internet gambling in new legislation planned to become effective next year. Bwin cheered the ruling.

"We welcome the decision because it confirms the license and makes clear that the planned Gambling Law can't be realised," a spokesman for bwin's German arm bwin e.K. said.


In a drawback for bwin, the court also said the license was not valid in the western part of the country -- contradicting other courts in western German states which have deemed the license valid.

Bwin will have to request users to disclose where they are based to make sure only east German users are allowed, according to the court's decision, which is final.

The bwin spokesman said the company would obey the ruling but said western Germans could be diverted to bwin's international web site -- which operates under a license issued by the British Overseas territory of Gibraltar.
Full story here