Prior to changes in 2012, it was illegal to gamble online in Germany, however the state of Schleswig-Holstein did not sign the treaty, therefore the state was able to create its own online gambling regulations and the only licensed online gambling sites in Germany were licensed in Schleswig-Holstein. However, each of the websites licensed in Schleswig-Holstein could be accessed by anyone living in the country.
Fast forward to March 2020 and a transition period went into effect as legislators allowed online casino games to legally be available in Germany. The process involves a strict regulatory framework known as Glücksspielneuregulierungstaatsvertrag (GlüneuRStV) and this will come into force in July 2021. The period of time up to this date is the transition period German regulators have afforded online casino companies to get their affairs in order.
As with many countries around the world, the online casino regulations in Germany continue to change. With the United Kingdom leaving the EU, Germany has the biggest economy of all the countries in the EU and online gambling is sure to play a significant role in its future. In terms of online gambling in Germany, the Interstate Treaty on Gambling 2012 made changes to the original 2008 treaty. As a country who are global innovators and always on the cusp of modern technological developments, Germany’s 16 Minister-Presidents came to the decision that operators can continue offering online slots and poker games provided they worked to ensure they complied with the terms of the GlüneuRStV by the 15th of October. There were several conditions that had to be met within the regulatory framework by this date including compliance with player protection guidelines and addiction prevention measures. It is important to point out that at this stage online casinos are unable to offer table games, such as blackjack, craps, and roulette.
There are other strict guidelines in place, some of which are there to protect the players. A good example is the blanket €1,000 monthly spending limit. This will be applied to all players but it can be raised upon request to €10,000. Interestingly, when betting at the limit, a maximum bet amount will be set for the player in addition to a loss limit. The loss limit will prevent players from losing more than 20% of their maximum spend and it must be enforced. There are other details involved in the regulations that will allow some players a maximum budget of up to €30,000 but it can only be applied to 1% of an online casino’s total registered players. This will be monitored closely and any player applying for the maximum amount will have to be at least 21 years of age.
It is vital every online casino operator works within this strict framework because if they fail to do so, it could lead them to them missing out on a licence from July next year. The transition period has been under discussion for some time with Nordrhein-Westfalen, Berlin, Hamburg, and Bavaria leading the way. However, despite many states pushing for a change in the online casino regulations in Germany, there were several states who were not as keen to see the changes come into force. Nonetheless, even those who were against the new regulations must admit it will be easier for everyone concerned to have a clear picture of the laws surrounding online casinos and gambling in Germany.
Not only will the regulators be enforcing these measures, but they will also be taking a close look at illegal online gambling operators in Germany. This will be targeting online sportsbooks more than casinos but especially those that continue to offer online slots and poker without implementing the changes. Any online casino that continues to offer table games will also face legal action during this period of time. One of the many methods of punishing those who do not obey by the regulations is the blocking of payments. This may seem severe and could lead to the closure of an online casino company but it underlines the seriousness of the situation Every online casino owner must ensure they are operating within the framework to avoid punishment.
We have already highlighted the state of Schleswig-Holstein above and the conditions being set out by the GlüneuRStV do not apply. All online gambling products are available to people residing in Schleswig-Holstein but they are subject to a 20% gross revenue tax. This will remain in place until July 2021 at which point Schleswig-Holstein will revert to the framework as described in the GlüneuRStV.
It is an interesting time for those involved in the online casino industry in Germany and around Europe. While there have always been online casinos available to players in Germany, they have never been licenced or regulated for German gamblers, with Schleswig-Holstein being the exception. There are exciting times ahead for German gamblers and we are sure to see many top online casinos offering their services legally in the country.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes