Is July 1st D-Day For Germany’s Online Gambling Industry?

Germany has had a sort of a love and hate relationship with online gambling over the years. In 2012, 16 federal states signed an Interstate Treaty on Gambling with a desire to offer regulated sports betting for the first time. However, the implementation of the Treaty was slow in the making, and it wasn’t until the beginning of 2020 that the heads of state convened and announced a new treaty that would see complete legalization of online sports betting and casinos on July 1st, 2021. 

There are still plenty of things that are unknown about the current situation and what the new legal framework, dubbed the Glücksspielneuregulierungstaatsvertrag (GlüNeuRStv), will bring. 

In this article, we will shed some light on the current state of affairs when online gambling in Germany is concerned and the implications of the new law. 

The Current Legal Gambling Framework in Germany 

Although the new regulatory framework for gambling has been ratified by Germany’s President-Ministers, it is still not in power. At the moment, the Third State Treaty on Gambling is still in effect, and it only allows sports betting in the country. 

Under this treaty, there is no limit as to how many operators can file for a license, as it was the case with its predecessor. All licensed sports betting operators have to pay a 5% tax on the turnover and must not allow in-play betting. What’s more, players are not able to spend more than €1,000 per month on betting. 

The only exception to the rule is the Schleswig-Holstein state that is allowed to run its own gambling scheme. This is seen to be more liberal as it allows lotteries, land-based casinos, online casinos, and sports betting in general, both land-based and online. 

However, in September 2020, the lawmakers agreed on a so-called transition period that allowed operators to offer online casino games as long as they are in compliance with the terms of the new regulatory framework. These requirements are seen in the limited stakes on slots and the limit of in-play betting markets that will be present in the Glücksspielneuregulierungstaatsvertrag. 

Let’s see what that new gambling law holds for the players and operators. 

Germany’s New Gambling Regulation — The Glücksspielneuregulierungstaatsvertrag (GlüneuRStV)

In a campaign to end the black gambling market in Germany and to dissuade Germans from playing in sites not registered in the country, the lawmakers launched a new set of laws that would see both online sports betting and casino gaming become legal throughout the country. 

Through the GlüNeuRStV, a new gambling regulatory body will be established for the entire country, and is going to be based in Sachsen-Anhalt. The regulation itself is seen to be considerably strict and harsh. 

Under the new law, online slots and video poker games will be allowed, but the stakes can’t be higher than €1 on these machines. In terms of the classic casino games, such as baccarat, poker, blackjack, roulette, craps, and others, and their live dealer counterparts, the situation is not so clear cut. 

It appears that online operators will only be able to offer casino games if they have previously obtained a special federal license from each individual state they are based in. It can be expected that these licenses will require online casinos to go through land-based counterparts in order to obtain permissions to run casino table games. 

As for sports betting, the limit on in-play betting markets will be in place. Such limits say that Germans will only be able to bet on the next goalscorer or the final result. 

Also, no live streaming will be available on betting sites, and there will be a 5-minute cooling off period before you can switch between sites. 

As far as the advertising limits are concerned, the GlüNeuRStV says that no commercial advertising for slots, online poker, and casino games will be allowed on radio and the internet between 6 AM and 9 PM every day. This measure produced an outcry from the operators who argue that the restrictions will make them less appealing to players and reduce their chances of competing with illegal sites. 

Players will still be limited to an amount of €1,000 per month they can use for gambling. However, a small number of players, not exceeding 1% of the total number of registered users on a site, will be awarded a €30,000 monthly cap following a detailed financial and security check. 

Final Thoughts 

The new law seems to put Germany in a group of countries with a fully regulated gambling market. Albeit the tough restrictions, operators are expected to file for licenses. Given how vast the market potential is, there is a good chance of making a profit while giving players a safe and fun gambling environment.

Feb 9, 2021