Despite a new treaty due in 2018, Germany’s online gambling sector remains complex

  • Recent report written by the Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics says Germany’s gambling market is lagging compared to other EU nations
  • Since a treaty was introduced in 2012 the country’s gambling market has remained complex and confusing

One European nation whose name is rarely mentioned in the context of online gambling is Germany. It’s not that the Germans don’t like to bet – they’re particularly fond of poker and blackjack – but rather a case that at present opportunities are limited.

german casino industry

The current situation regarding online gambling regulation in the country can best be described as complex, with no solution in sight.

No hurry to rush

The German government appears to be in no hurry to rush through a framework that would allow its citizens to freely gamble online. While this policy may be in keeping with the meticulous approach for which the country is famed, it’s left thousands of would-be gamblers forced to watch in frustration from the sidelines while other countries press ahead with deregulated online casinos in all their forms.

It was in 2012 that Germany first took steps to regulate gambling with the creation of an interstate treaty. Within a year, all 16 of Germany’s states had begun to comply with the provisions it laid out.

One of the most heavily criticised elements of the treaty was the cap it placed on the number of gambling operators that were permitted. Local operators were allowed to offer online sports betting, but international operators were to be capped, with only 20 betting licenses up for grabs.

Many German states were unabashed exponents of the new gambling laws and a series of court battles followed, culminating in the matter being heard by the EU’s Court of Justice, who ruled against the treaty.

As a consequence of the Court of Justice’s ruling, local authorities were barred from prosecuting online sports books that were targeting German citizens while based elsewhere in the EU.

A new treaty

This year, Germany finally got round to drawing up a new treaty, one which proposed raising the cap on international operators from 20 to 40.

In doubling the number of available licenses in one fell swoop, it was hoped that this would appease the 35 international operators that had previously attempted to obtain a German gambling license. As it stands, this new improved treaty is due to come into effect in 2018, but not all of the country’s states are happy.

One major dissenting state has been Schleswig-Holstein, which has expressed the desire to adopt its own gambling act instead, one which would also legalise online casino and poker play for its citizens.

A recent report written by the Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE) has concluded that Germany’s gambling market is lagging badly compared to that of other EU nations. The 300-word report recommended that the German government further deregulate the gambling market for the benefit of players and operators. As it stands, progress in Germany is painfully slow.

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