Germany secures gambling regime but stakeholders demand radical changes 

Germany’s Fourth Interstate Treaty on Gambling (GlüNeuRStV) is guaranteed to officially launch on 1 July, having been ratified by the Bundesländer (state parliament) of Saxony-Anhalt this Wednesday. 

The Interstate Treaty had previously secured the required approval of 13 states to launch Germany’s new federal regime regulating online gambling services.

However, the approval of Saxony-Anhalt was deemed as essential to the Interstate Treaty’s ascension into federal law, as the Lander is designated to house the regulatory agency overseeing German gambling laws and operator conduct.

July will see the Interstate Treaty complete its near-decade long journey into existence, as in 2012 the Bundesrat (Federal Council) had agreed for Germany’s Lander to agree and establish a new federal regime for online gambling services.

Following year-upon-year of Bundesländer quarrels with regards to the Treaty’s duties, taxes, protections, online casino rules and licensing requirements in January 2020, Germany’s 16 autonomous Lander ‘settled in principle’ on the final Treaty arrangements.

2020 would see the Bundesrag (Parliament) put forward the agreed upon GlüNeuRStV framework to individual Bundesländer for federal ascension – a directive regarded as Germany’s last chance to regulate online gambling following the EU’s rejection of the Treaty underlying fundamental flaws in its design with regards to ensuring competition standards.

Responding to Saxony-Anhalt approval, DSWV – Germany’s Sports Betting Association – welcomed the ratification, thereby ending years of “regulatory uncertainty for Germany gambling consumers”.

“This is the beginning of a new age of gaming regulation in Germany. After sports betting, the federal states are now rightly regulating further online games of chance in order to finally control what is happening on the market,” said DSWV President Mathias Dahms.

“Consumers benefit from clarity and security: providers with a state seal of approval meet the highest standards of consumer and youth protection, gambling addiction and fraud prevention.”

Yet, despite the Treaty securing its guarantee of ascension, DSWV continues to reiterate its stance that the Bundesländer must ensure further reforms of the GlüNeuRStV in order for the regime to cater for a mass-market audience. 

The DSWV stated that its members would accept current arrangements, but that drastic reforms needed to be undertaken on a high 5.3% tax on online poker and slot machines and further in-play wagering restrictions on sports betting markets.

“Because in the end only the black market profits from this, no other country in Europe taxes the stakes in virtual slot machine games, but always the gross gaming revenue – the actual revenue of the gaming provider,” Dahms remarked.

“In this way, Germany becomes a wrong-way driver in tax policy. We therefore appeal to the members of the Bundestag not to hastily wave through the draft of the racing betting and lottery law, but to deal with the issue in greater depth in the coming electoral term.”

The DSWV also cited high-cost compliance demands on licensed operators, who will be required to individually register player details with each Lander gambling registry. The organisation also questioned the requirement, as German gambling will be supervised by a central agency in Halle / Saale (Saxony-Anhalt).

“Adjustments will have to be made here soon,” said the DSWV. “We place our hopes in the new authority, which will shape and objectify the gambling policy debate in the future.”

Once established, German Lander will be obliged to enforce the rules of the GlüNeuRStV regime until 2028 – upon which states will be given the individual right to withdraw or reform the Treaty.   

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