German Ministers Unite Over Draft Federal Gambling Treaty

  • Germany's 16 federal states hope to agree a permanent federal gambling treaty in coming months
  • New regulatory framework will lift the current ban on online casinos
  • Operators will be able to apply for nationwide licences to offer slots and poker
  • New regulatory body will assess license applications, ensure rules are being followed
evening view of Brandenburger Tor
It appears that a major breakthrough has been made by Germany’s 16 federal states in negotiating a new gambling treaty. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Major breakthrough

According to Schleswig-Holstein, Germany’s 16 federal states have made a breakthrough in negotiating a permanent federal gambling treaty. The agreed model has been labeled as a “really good result” for the country.

Germany’s state lottery will continue to hold a monopoly

The draft treaty indicates that Germany’s state lottery will continue to hold a monopoly. However, there will no longer be a ban on online casinos. As is currently the case, sports betting would continue to be allowed. 

Details of the draft

As part of these new rules, a new national regulatory body will be established. This body will be in charge of assessing license applications, as well as ensuring gambling rules are adhered to. 

No information has been provided as to what the updated regulations may look like for the sector. However, there will definitely be new safeguards introduced to encourage people to gamble responsibly.

Licenses will be made available on a nationwide level for poker and slots. The regulatory body will issue nationwide licenses, but each federal state will have the power to create its own rules for the online casino space. 

Dirk Schrödter, head of the Schleswig-Holstein State Chancellery, confirmed this, stating:

States will formulate and enforce regulatory and technical requirements for online casinos.”

Therefore, it is likely that each license applicant will have to outline how they will comply with local rules in the respective federal states they wish to operate in. 

Schrödter believes that this new regulatory framework will make legal online gambling attractive to consumers. It will also help Germany fight against the increasing number of players using illegal online platforms.

What happens next?

Comments from the Schleswig-Holstein that a final agreement is near are encouraging. However, none of the other federal states have provided such an update. Other key questions also remain to be answered. One of these questions is where the new regulatory body would be based. 

Hesse has previously put its hand up to be the host state due to its licensing experience through the Regional Council of Darmstadt. So far, this group has received 11 applications from gambling operators, with at least seven others expected in due course.

The next meeting for lawmakers to discuss this issue will be on January 30. There will also be a meeting of the Minister-Presidents on March 5, which could be when the new rules are officially finalized.

Once ratified, European Commission approval would then be sought. It could then replace the State Treaty that came into effect on January 2, 2020. The plan is to have the Fourth Interstate Treat in place from June 30 onwards.

A contrary report

A previous report published by Bild, a tabloid newspaper in Germany, had detailed strict measures that were set to come into place.

Some of these restrictions include players only being allowed to play at online casinos for a maximum of three hours per day. It has also been suggested that gambling ads should be banned between 6am and 11pm.

There has also been talk of limiting how much an individual can deposit across all online gambling platforms in Germany. This limit would be just €1,000 ($1,100) in a month period.

It appears that this report is based on one of the earlier drafts for these changes. In reality, these restrictions appear to be less restrictive than many originally feared.

Online platforms plaguing the youth

A report by the Bavarian Consumer Center has been revealed that a number of German-facing online gambling platforms have been failing to verify how old new customers are.

The five gambling sites in question are tipico.de, sports.bwin.com, bet3000.de, betsafe.com, and bet-at-home.com. 

When putting the age verification measures of these sites to the test, the watchdog was able to register, deposit, and place bets without having to confirm that they were 18 years or older. Age verification was only sought when a customer tried to make a withdrawal.

According to Tatjana Halm, head of the watchdog group, these operators “collect the money from minors, but may not distribute any profits to them.”