German Gambling Treaty Gets Green Light for July 1 Launch After Final State Approval

  • GlüNeuRStV has received its final required approval from the parliament of Nordrhein-Westfalen
  • The legislation legalizes both online casino and poker, expanding wagering beyond sports betting
  • Operators have raised concerns over certain aspects of the treaty, including a 5.3% turnover tax
  • Sportsbooks will also face a new limit on live wagering, prohibiting the majority of bet categories
Nordrhein-Westfalen parliament in Dusseldorf
At the parliament of Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf (pictured above), German officials have given final approval to new gambling legislation which will legalize online poker and casino across the country on July 1. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

16 states okay the legislation

Germany’s Gambling State Treaty is all set to come into effect following its ratification by the parliament of Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf. Der Glücksspielneuregulierungsstaatsvertrag (GlüNeuRStV) received approval from the 16th and final German state on Thursday. It will now take effect in all of the nation’s federal states on July 1 2021.

legalizes both online poker and casino

Approved by Germany’s heads of state in March last year, GlüNeuRStV will expand the country’s gambling options beyond just online sports betting. It legalizes both online poker and casino, while also creating a new regulatory body to oversee the expanded market. The said authority will reside in Sachsen-Anhalt’s capital city of Halle from 2022.

After the introduction of an Interstate Treaty and Tolerance Policy in October last year, online casino operators are able to offer games in Germany prior to the July 1 date. However, they must comply with player protection guidelines and addiction prevention measures set out in GlüNeuRStV.

A new market with new limitations

While the treaty will allow online casino and poker operators to enter Germany’s gambling market, it also includes a number of controversial elements which have caused concern among those in the gambling industry.

tax could result in 49% of gamblers playing on black-market sites

A number of operators have warned that a proposed 5.3% tax on turnover for online slots and poker will cause low channelization levels. Entain, Flutter Entertainment, and Novomatic subsidiary Greentube commissioned a study into the potential impact of the measure. The results of that research, published by Goldmedia on Thursday, suggested that the tax could result in 49% of gamblers playing on black-market sites.

The legislation also includes a number of restrictions for online slots, including a €1 ($1.21) staking limit and a spin speed average of five seconds. Operators must block the ability to play multiple slots simultaneously and impose a blanket deposit limit of €1,000 ($1,209) across all player accounts. The new regulation also bans slot jackpots.

Sports betting also included

The Regional Council of Darmstadt awarded Germany’s first sports betting licenses in October last year. Sportsbook operators must also adhere to strict requirements as per the conditions of those permits, including wagering limits of €1,000 ($1,209) per month, and maximum annual bonus amounts of €100 ($121) per customer.

Starting July 1, GlüNeuRStV will add some new sportsbook restrictions. Most notably, it will introduce a prohibition on all live bets other than those wagered on the final result or next goal scorer. The measure was previously criticized by German Sports Betting Association president Mathias Dahms.

In January last year, Dahms warned that the provision would turn disappointed consumers towards the black market, noting that live betting accounted for around 60% of all wagers. He also argued that the restriction meant operators could no longer offer popular live betting markets such as tennis, handball, or basketball.

Others in the industry have also reacted to the restrictions. Commenting last year, former Entain CEO Shay Segev praised the introduction of the Interstate Treaty and Tolerance Policy for bringing “long-awaited clarity to the future of online gaming regulation in Germany.” However, the company, operating in Germany through its Bwin brand, said strict operating conditions would reduce its full-year EBITDA by around £70m ($97.4m) beginning in 2021.