Revised Gambling Framework for Germany in the Cards Again

  • Bill is now in a standstill until August
  • Legislation must be ratified by 13 of the 16 German states
  • Framework will include online casino games, but with just a €1 maximum stake
  • If accepted, the year-long licensing window will open in July 2021
German flag waving
Germany has gone ahead with its plans to create a new State Treaty on Gambling, which would authorize online casino licensing. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Hopes to launch July 2021

Earlier this week, Germany put forward further proposals for a Fourth Edition of the State Treaty on Gambling, ready to open a potential new gambling arena in summer 2021.

approval needed from at least 13 states to get the changes passed into law

It will now be considered by the 16 federal states, known as Länder, with approval needed from at least 13 states to get the changes passed into law. Decisions must be made by March 31, 2021 in order for the State Treaty to be ready in time for July 1, 2021, the day after the current treaty ends.

If agreed upon, the framework would stay in effect until December 31, 2028, by which time online casino licenses would have been created and each Länder will once again have a say on whether to revise or opt-out of the treaty.

Replaces sportsbook-only model

Under legislation from the previous treaty, operators were granted the ability to run sports betting outlets. The Glücksspielneuregulierungstaatsvertrag (GlüNeuRStV) bill will aim to replace the sportsbook-only model, the first draft of which was ratified in March of this year. It is now in a standstill period until August 19.

The bill includes the licensing of online casino games in Germany for the first time, although the requirements stated are some of the strictest in Europe. Under the proposed regulations, licensees would have to limit slot games to a €1 ($1.10) maximum stake and restrict customers to a €1,000 ($1,092) deposit limit.

It also means that license fees for operators will be partly judged based on turnover, where the operator pays a set fee plus a minimum percentage of stakes. For example, if an operator turned over between €40m and €65m ($43.9m and $71.4m), they should expect to pay a fee of €80,000 ($87,825) plus 1.6% of stakes in excess of €40m.

The tiers increase until operators eclipse the €130m ($142.7m) turnover, at which point they would be expected to pay €185,000 ($203,095) plus 0.6% of any stakes above €130m.

Strict guidelines in play

Germany has already been criticized by the European Commission for its plans, including an advertising blackout from 6am to 9pm and a ban during live sports broadcasts.

banned the use of gambling advertising on sports team’s clothing and sideline boards

The commission sent a blue letter, warning Länder that the strict measures may make the market less attractive. Germany expects operators to forgo affiliate marketing partners and has banned the use of gambling advertising on sports teams’ clothing and sideline boards. All operators will be ordered to produce social concepts to protect vulnerable players and minors.

Despite the initial warning, however, no changes have been made to the framework.

If the treaty is agreed upon, a year-long licensing window would open under the Chancery of the Länder Saxony-Anhalt as it becomes the regulatory authority for federal gambling.

Appeal underway with sports betting

Although sports betting was announced in the 2012 Third State Treaty, it is still not established in the country. After a long delay in getting up and running, the Regional Council of Darmstadt was recently stopped from processing operator licenses after Austrian bookmaker Vierklee won a court challenge that the process was not sufficiently transparent.

The Regional Council is now appealing the verdict, and has told the 30+ operators who have sent in submissions that it hoped that applications will continue to be approved if the appeal is granted.