The ban of gamblers in the light of consumer protection

Published in German in Zeitschrift für Wett- und Glücksspielrecht (ZfWG, European Journal of Gambling Law) 2014, p. 383


The prevention of gambling addiction is the explicit and central regulatory objective of the State Treaty on Gambling 2012. Guaranteeing gambler protection as well as preventing the development of gambling addiction and creating prerequisites for an effective fight against gambling addiction (§ 1 sentence 1 no. 1 and 3) are equal-ranking objectives of this treaty. According to § 8, sentence 1, a comprehensive ban system is maintained for the protection of gamblers and for combating gambling addiction.

It is the task of gambling prevention to protect the respective target groups of prevention (unprob-lematic gamblers, problematic gamblers, pathological gamblers) from hazards or concrete damages by means of general awareness, individual address and if necessary exclusion from the participation in gambling. In contrast, a therapy, i.e. the treatment of a disease as well as its diagnosis can only happen by qualified staff in the healthcare system.

The ban of gamblers serves as a damage-decreasing measure to exclude gamblers from gambling. Therapeutic effects are not connected with the mere ban per se. Rather there is no doubt that the gambling ban may at least have a therapeutic function, for example by simultaneous mediation of the gambler to the help system and by prevention of relapses. This, however, requires self-motivation on part of the gambler for being excluded from the gambling business. This is only the case in terms of a self-ban. From a therapeutic perspective, the effect of external bans must rather be questioned critically.

From a public health perspective, the ban on gamblers represents a measure of indicated prevention, which must be applied dedicatedly in gamblers with the suspicion of pathological gambling behav-iour as the last possible level of prevention in the sense of an ultima ratio. There are preceded by universal and selective prevention measures informing consumers about gambling-related risks and gambler protection measures as well as motivating them to moderate gambling behaviour or supporting the gamblers in preventing risky gambling behaviour permanently and on the long run.
The essay at hand examines the question if the regulations established in the State Treaty on Gam-bling concerning the ban of gamblers can be improved in the sense of consumer protection. In doing so, insights from other specialist disciplines and from practice are added to the legal aspects.


Martin Reeckmann, retired senior government official, worked for the state of Berlin from 1989 to 2002 and was, in this capacity, head of the gambling division. Since 2003, he practices law as a founding partner of the law firm Reeckmann in Berlin, specializing in gambling law.

Knut Walter founded his own strategy consultancy. He give successfully advise to national and international companies in terms of strategic conception and usage of scientific research projects for corporate communication purposes.