Germany Votes to Enact Nationwide Online Gaming Law

March 18th, 2020 | by Greg Shaun

Out of the new coronavirus chaos, a glimmer of positivity has emerged in Germany thanks to new online gaming laws.

German flag

Online gaming will be legal and regulated in Germany by July 1, 2021. (Image: German Pulse)

The new regulations will come into effect on July 1, 2021 and make casino and poker sites legal across the country.

Until now, online gaming in Germany has existed in a grey area.

New Laws Turn Grey into White

The 2012 Interstate Treaty on Gambling set out a framework for governing the industry. 15 of Germany’s 16 states initially accepted the Treaty. It was subsequently adopted by the Schleswig-Holstein region in 2013.

However, although the Treaty created a framework to manage the industry and protect consumers, it didn’t create an official licensing system for online gaming operators.

In fact, as per the Treaty, online casinos (which includes poker) were prohibited. Despite that, 20 operators were allowed to offer sports betting. Moreover, European Union (EU) freedom laws supersede state laws and, in essence, made it possible for online gaming to take place in Germany.

These dynamics turned Germany into a grey market. Even though online gaming sites weren’t legal, operators were able to use EU laws as protection.

The confusing and uncertain dynamics were formerly reviewed in January. Following the proposal of a nationwide regulatory framework, heads of states agreed to the new measures. The announcement was made in mid-March as those in power met in Berlin.

With all 16 states in agreement, online poker and casino gaming will become legal in July 2021, pending approval from the European Commission. Until that time, online sports betting will remain the only legal form of online gambling.

Online Gaming in Germany Fixed for 2021

Once Germany’s online poker and casino market goes live, operators will have to abide by a number of regulations. Much like the UK’s Gambling Commission, Germany’s regulatory body, GlüNeuRStv, will take a hardline approach to ensure consumer safety.

The good news for online poker operators is that the strict guidelines mainly apply to casinos. For example, players will only be able to bet a maximum of €1/$1.10 per spin on slots. Additionally, features such as autoplay will be disabled for Germany players.

In another nod to UKGC regulations, Germany operators will only be able to advertise at certain times. Similar to the UK’s ban on betting adverts before and during sporting events, Germany’s licensees can’t run ads between 6am and 9pm.

Despite what some may see as harsh operating conditions, the new laws are a positive. As one of the world’s richest economies, Germany’s newly regulated industry has the potential to become a powerhouse in global online gaming.


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