Law changes could see legalised online poker coming to Germany

  • Online gambling laws set to allow legal online casino and poker in Germany
  • EU takes action as Germany fails to come up with adequate gambling laws

Sports betting and casino group, GVC Holdings has told investors that it is more optimistic than ever that regulated online poker could be allowed in Germany.

The optimism of Kenny Alexander, GVC’s CEO, surrounds changes to laws which allegedly leave operators leeway to ignore them. It is claimed that changes to the German State Treaty on Gambling have not gone far enough and will not make the law comply with EU treaties.

Germany online poker
CEO of GVC Holdings, Kenny Alexander is optimistic of online poker appearing in Germany

This effectively means that the amended rules are just as illegal as the previous laws, meaning that German courts will not attempt to enforce them.

Alexander believes that the likely outcome of this is a treaty replacement, which includes regulated online poker.

The CEO admitted to investors that he had reviewed German regulations many times in the past but said he had never previously ‘been more confident’ that Germany’s regulatory environment will change for the better.

He said that federal states in the country have already announced an evaluation of the regulation of casino and poker online.

Unsustainable solution

Alexander said that the EU has stated that the current amendments to German gambling laws do not offer ‘a sustainable solution’ in relation to the flourishing online casino market.

The German State Treaty’s provisions included sports betting but left online casino and poker as illegal. The treaty was rendered unenforceable as a result of court challenges before and after new licenses were awarded.

The amendments resulted from the ratification of the treaty by the country’s 16 state minister-presidents in March. A key change in the treaty was a rise in the number of permitted sports betting licenses, which increased numbers from the previous 20 to 35.

Bwin.party which is now GVC-owned, was awarded one of the first licenses but these licenses were suspended immediately by a German court.

Consumer protection failings

The changes have been criticized for not only failing to comply with EU law, but also for not addressing the issue of consumers using unlicensed online gambling sites.

Mathias Dahms, the president of Deutsche Sportwettenverband, said that the amendments to the treaty were ‘a small step in the right direction’ but fell short and did not address the issues of consumer and youth protection and addiction prevention if most consumers continue to use unregulated sites.

Decade-long battle

The latest rejection of amendments by the EU Commission marks the 10th time that state politics have failed in their bid to create viable online gambling laws in Germany. The commission can initiate infringement proceedings if a member state continually keeps an illegal law in place.

The EU has already started the infringement process in relation to Germany, sparking the sense of optimism amongst Alexander, GVC and the wider market.

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