Changes to Gambling Regulations in Germany

Changes to Gambling Regulations in Germany

Throughout 2020 the gambling industry in Germany has seen a range of new regulations introduced which, in time, should allow for new online gaming platforms to be launched.

The gambling industry in Germany has always been subject to a few grey areas and as such it has been felt that greater clarification was needed to determine what is and is not allowed, hence the recent introduction of these regulations.

What were the previous regulations?

Prior to these new rules being brought in, it was illegal for a German operator to run a gambling platform online, but there is less clarity on the actual placing of bets. Germans were permitted to play at foreign-based online casinos, and this is because such sites are not subject to German law. 

Naturally, this can cause quite a bit of confusion as there is a nuanced distinction to make between the legality of placing bets and the illegality of hosting an online betting site. As a result, the following new regulations should make it a lot easier to understand what is allowed in the German gamnling industry.

New regulations

Early on in 2020 a range of Germany’s senior politicians sanctioned the introduction of new gambling regulations to make it legal to operate both online casinos and online poker. These laws kick into effect on 1st July 2021 though, so there is still some time before German punters will benefit from these new laws. 

Alongside the new regulations it is also important to note that there are a range of stringent gambling-related measures targeted at player protection via guidelines provided to gambling companies, as well as measures designed to deal with gambling addiction. 

The new system allows online casino platforms to provide slot games, poker, and sports betting markets. There will be limits on things such as stakes per spin on slots, and there will be a transition period into the new format during which highly popular table games such as roulette and blackjack will not be allowed. 

Sports betting will be subject to some tight restrictions, namely that the markets which bookmakers are allowed to offer are limited to ‘next scorer’ or ‘final result’. This regulation has received quite a bit of criticism by a range of official bodies, but the policy remains unchanged and in place - at least for now.

With slot games, there will be a limit of 1 Euro per spin and slot games must be offered separately to any table games which the platform offers to its players. It is worth noting that these games are not allowed to have jackpots attached to them, and the games will not have ‘autoplay’ features enabled which have become popular in countries outside of Germany. 

On top of this, each individual state in Germany will have autonomy over whether it permits table games in general or not, but all states will still have to abide by the ban on roulette and blackjack during the transition period. 

There are serious ramifications for any online gambling operators breaching these rules - anyone found to break these rules will have their license taken away, and there will be the possibility of being prohibited from running similar operations in the future. 

Will these regulations significantly change the industry?

These new rules and regulations certainly pave the way for a far more liberal and free gambling industry in Germany, even though there will be plenty of responsible protections for players. 

However it may well be some time before players start to benefit from these relaxed rules. Even though the official body responsible for regulating online gambling platforms (the Regional Council of Darmstadt based in Hesse) received 30 applications from prospective licensees in February, and a further 20 similar operators indicated that they would be intending to apply, no such applications have been approved as of yet. 

It is thought that it will be closer to the summer of 2021 when the decision to approve or deny the applications will be made, so it could well be some months yet before German punters can say with real clarity what their options will be betting-wise under the new rules. 

However there are estimates of a significant boost to the gambling industry’s revenues in Germany once these regulations come into fruition. Research provider Goldmedia estimates that German gambling revenue should reach €3.3 billion by 2024, having been €2.2 billion in 2019 - a monumental 50% growth in five years.

It is very much a case of ‘watch this space’ with the German gambling industry for the coming months and years, these regulations could well see a boom in the popularity of online gaming in the country.