Gambling law in Germany

Gambling law in Germany


Gambling and betting in Germany has been around since the time of ancient Rome. Gambling was a favourite pastime of the Romans back then, during the medieval period. And way before gambling got introduced in its online avatar, Germany had it first casino thrown open to the public in 1720.

Gambling story of Germany

The gambling scene of Germany is exciting but, with its own set of problems. There has been a massive shift in the place of gambling, right from brick and mortar ones to the online ones now. Currently in Germany there are over 50 land based casinos and these casinos are present in every major city. Each state has its own set of laws and these state laws govern the casinos. Land based gambling in Germany is legal and currently it is regulated by the local state under the purview of the government. Online Gambling is something which is new and has its own set of complicated laws. In fact, the picture today for Germany as far as Gambling and legality is concerned is confusing.

The Legal Landscape

Before 2008, online Gambling market was highly unregulated. Then on 1st Jan, 2008, the Interstate Gambling treaty was brought into effect, and according to this treaty, online gambling was completely banned. And this also banned poker. The government, in its diktat to enforce the law, placed restrictions on banks and internet service providers from doing business with the gambling providers.

The purpose of this law with strict penalties was to reduce the chances of anyone to suffer from any form of gambling addiction, criminal activity and committing any kind of internet fraud. However, EU intervened and hence the government amended the Interstate Gambling treaty in 2012 whereby online lotteries and betting on sport events was allowed. However, apart from this, all other gambling games including poker were prohibited.

All the German federal states accepted the IGT. However, Schleswig-Holstein licensed its own online gambling operators under liberal set of regulations. By the start of 2013, Schleswig-Holstein had given licenses to 50 online operators which also included poker. These licenses were issued for a period of 6 years and the operators had to pay 20 percent tax on the gross revenue. However the Schleswig-Holstein parliament decided to revoke its laws & join other German states for signing the IGT. The operators currently are allowed to operate under the existing licenses and the newer operators would receive licenses under the restrictive terms of IGT.

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The current Gambling scene of Germany

The German Gambling industry is as big as 16 billion EUR. And around 50 percent of the revenue comes from sports betting and lotteries. The German players who win at the casinos do not have to pay taxes on their revenue. However, the Gambling operators have a hefty tax. The German casinos offer all games such as slots, blackjack, roulette, craps, video poker and poker. Here, the glitz and the glamour do not exist and people come here only for Gambling and nothing else. The atmosphere here is more formal with a dress code. People below the age of 18 are not allowed to gamble. Here, casinos do not work 24*7 and close by 3 am and open at noon.

These land based gambling casinos are struggling as they are state run and they have multiple restrictions. They have advertising restrictions, limitations on the operation hours, smoking ban, entrance fees, lack of entertainment, etc. When it comes to poker, no German player has been arrested when it comes to playing casino online.

In order to deal with the problem of online gambling addiction and underage gambling in Germany, which has been rising over the years, Germany passed a law in June 2013, which reduced the cap on the slot machine numbers from 12 to 8. In total, around 22,000 machines got removed. To deal with online gambling issues, strict penalties have been imposed on the operators.

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