Of all the European countries, few have such a complicated state of affairs in regards to gambling as Germany does. Germany is the most developed and richest country in both the EU and the continent, general. Yet while many other nations have embraced iGaming in some form, Germany is one of the last remaining states that still shun this industry. However, nothing is immune to change and soon, Germans might be able to enjoy full-fledged iGaming. In this article, we will explore the current online gambling laws and regulation in Germany and what the future holds for the iGaming scene.
Germany’s Gambling Scene in 2020
Land-based gambling in Germany has been legal for quite a while. Currently, German gamblers have the opportunity to visit brick-and-mortar establishments without issues. Both traditional casino games and poker are available country-wide. Gambling supervision is done on the regional level, with each Bundesland – or state in English – implementing its specific regulations and restrictions. The Ministry of the Interior of each Bundesland is responsible for the oversight of land-based casino gaming and poker. For all intents and purposes, there seems to be a developed gambling scene in each state.
However, things are nowhere near as rosy when it comes to virtual gambling. Based on the Interstate Treaty on Gambling, iGaming is forbidden in all forms. There is no infrastructure in place to regulate and control online casino gaming or poker. Still, German residents who wish to gamble online have many unregulated websites at their disposal and it is a loosely controlled system, at best. Another study goes in-depth about the legal situation regarding online gambling in Germany.
The one exception to this is the Bundesland of Schleswig-Holstein. At this time, it is the only Bundesland to issue licenses to operators and to have some measure of regulations. The Schleswig-Holstein Ministry of the Interior is tasked with keeping the local online gambling industry in check. There are provisions for handling companies not licensed in the state that offer their services to Schleswig-Holstein residents.
Regulated iGaming in the Near Future
As of May 2020, there is still no regulated iGaming in Germany as a whole. Schleswig-Holstein is only one of sixteen states to break from the fold. However, new information has come to light which shows that there are plans for country-wide legislation that will bring legal and controlled online gambling in Germany.
This new project will bring specific regulations that will come in effect on 1 July 2021. A new government institution will be established to manage the new market. Additionally, German lawmakers have revealed some details about the new regulations.
Both slots and table games will be available at licensed websites, however, they must be offered separately. What’s more, slots will be subjected to a €1.00 per spin limit and cannot include an autoplay feature or come with a jackpot. Local authorities will also be allowed to limit the availability of iGaming products as they see fit.
There are also strict laws regarding gambling advertisements, prohibiting operators from running ads between 06:00 and 21:00. The previously established deposit limits will remain in place in the foreseeable future, with bettors allowed only up to €1,000 per month.
These are only a few provisions and more will be revealed to the public with time. It is clear that Berlin is quite apprehensive about introducing iGaming to German residents. These regulations can be considered downright draconian by some, especially the betting and deposit limits. While the rules are certainly strict, they also show the willingness of the German government to give iGaming a chance. Regardless, the government has already received 30 applications for licenses from established operators with more soon to follow.