What’s the current state of online gaming in Germany?

Online Gaming in Germany Current State

For the online gaming industry, it’s not difficult to work out why Germany looks so attractive to them. A high disposable income is matched with a large, well-educated population. Therefore, it’s no surprise that eager eyes have been cast towards next year’s planned unified regulation.

This spring, VIXIO/Gambling Compliance hosted a webinar looking at the state of the market. This was attended by experts in German Gaming such as DSVW President Bastian Scholz and Gaming in Germany founder Willem van Oort, plus others. 

Below is a summary of what was discussed. 

An update on regulation 

The latest German State Treaty has been sent to the European Commission for approval. Lawmakers within Germany had approved the legislation in March 2020, despite industry opposition to many of its proposals. 

Online poker and casino will both be opened up further. However, multiple restrictions – such as severely-limited in-play sports betting and a €1,000 monthly deposit limit – have been questioned. 

States in Germany must approve the permanent interstate legislation by the end of March 2021. Since the country was one of the first to open up following its COVID-19 lockdown, delays caused by the pandemic are not expected. 

Will operators apply for licences? 

Applications for individual sports betting licences were supposed to have been processed from the beginning of January. As of February, Hesse said that it had received 30 – with 20 other operators expressing an interest in obtaining one. However, the process was halted by the Darmstadt Regional Council. This was due to an operator in Austria claiming that procedures were neither inclusive nor transparent. 

40% of participants in the VIXIO/Gambling Compliance webinar said they were either unsure about applying for, or would not apply for a German gaming licence of any kind. Roughly the same percentage said that they would apply for both sports betting and online casino permits, with smaller portions saying that they would seek licencing in either/or. 

Restarting the legislation from scratch would be bad 

Given the March 2021 deadline that the legislation must be decided by, the DSVW believes that the court ordering a restart would be disastrous and “set legislation back by years”. 

The webinar’s accompanying whitepaper said the following. 

“In the meantime, market observers believe the best outcome would be for the court to make recommendations, such as clear directives on how to make licensing more transparent, and how to address concerns that companies outside Germany have had lesser chances to obtain the interim sports- betting licences, but obstacles remain.” 

Meanwhile, MELCHERS Law Partner Joerg Hoffmann said that it might not be possible to please everybody. 

“I have the certain feeling no one will be happy with the regulation,” he said.

“I don’t think this benefits the brick-and-mortar casinos or the online casinos, but it is what it is.”