Schleswig-Holstein gaming officials issued their first online casino and poker licenses today despite some high level criticism from European Union regulators. This is just the latest chapter in a back-and-forth saga that’s been going on all year.

The first class of SH licenses are going out to 12 gaming companies who are eager to grab a chunk of the German market, despite some pretty hefty taxes. This groups includes PokerStars,, Bet365 and LadBrokes. The licenses are good for six years and allow the operators to offer services to Schleswig residents only.

Some industry watchers were surprised to see on the initial list of licensees. Just this last August, the company was engaged in a battle to hold the lander to its previous, operator-friendly, licensing scheme.

Bwin is hardly the only entity that wasn’t happy with the collapse of Schleswig’s liberal e-gaming treaty over the summer. Just last week the European Commission slammed Schleswig’s decision to implement the German government’s licensing plan over their own.

Schleswig’s back-and-forth is microcosm of the challenges the EU faces when attempting to forge competitive markets in the European gaming space. Governments like Germany are fighting fiercely to protect lucrative gambling monopolies that have been held, in some cases, for over a century.

Don’t be surprised to see further twists and turns as 2013 gets going.

What do you think of this latest turn in the Schleswig story? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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