German Gambling Industry Seeks To Loosen Onerous Betting List

September 22, 2022
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The German Sports Betting Association (DSWV) is in talks with regulators about expanding the list of permitted sports bets.

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The German Sports Betting Association (DSWV) is in talks with regulators about expanding the list of permitted sports bets.

That is an issue so important to the industry that the current regulator, Hesse’s Darmstadt Regional Council, has been hit with more than 100 lawsuits challenging the heavily restricted list.

The list not only bans bets on football red cards or penalty kicks, but also popular bets such as second-tier Austrian and Dutch football leagues and many women’s professional leagues, executives have said.

A resolution of this issue is vital, officials said last week at the Gaming in Germany conference in Berlin.

“If there is no dialogue to make an acceptable settlement, it will be a court that makes the decision,” MELCHERS attorney Joerg Hofmann told the audience.

DSWV officials have said that the restrictions eliminate up to 70 percent of possible in-play, pre-match or live bets on sports.

In June, a court ruled that the Darmstadt council was forbidden from enforcing the list of bets until a court hearing considered the case.

Although the Darmstadt Council is the defendant to the suits, they indirectly target the Gluecksspielkollegium, the Gambling Committee, which until December 31 has oversight over gambling regulators, including the council.

The DSWV and others are also concerned that the Gambling Committee might disallow a significant number of sports-betting licence renewals, as the 36 licence holders need their permits renewed for next year.

That committee, composed of gambling regulators from each of the 16 states, is scheduled to end this year, as the new nationwide regulator, the Joint Gaming Authority of the Federal States (GGL), assumes authority over most German online gambling issues.

Some in the industry blame the Gambling Committee for delays in approving virtual slots and poker licences.

“The Gambling Committee is over-interpreting [the treaty], literally word by word,” said Dirk Quermann, president of the German Online Casino Association (DOCV).

Although the licensing period opened on July 1, 2021, only nine of about 70 applicants have been approved so far, including no online poker applications.

Spokespeople defending the committee have said many applications arrive incomplete.

There have been concerns that the GGL’s board of directors, which will have representatives from all 16 states, will want to assume the same veto power over the new regulator.

But the GGL’s top enforcement official, Nadja Wierzejewski, said last week to the Gaming in Germany audience that she expects the agency to handle day-to-day decision-making while the board focuses on the big picture.

Some issues the GGL is unlikely to have much power to change, such as a €1,000 monthly deposit limit set in the 16-state gambling treaty itself.

From January 1, the industry is eligible to apply to allow individuals to exceed those limits, to as much as €30,000, if affordability and other checks are made.

The details of how exactly that will work will presumably be left up to the GGL, which from January 1 gains enforcement powers, including payment and website blocking.

Those enforcement powers will be welcomed by the licensed industry.

Asked for the regulator’s channelisation target, Wierzejewski said it was “simple”: “100 percent legal and 0 percent illegal.”

That might be hyperbole, as H2 Gambling Capital said the top European market in terms of keeping gamblers playing with licensed companies is the UK, at just over 90 percent, with Finland and Norway, both with gambling monopolies, at the bottom at 50 percent or under.

Germany has earmarked casino table games — roulette, blackjack and baccarat — for the states, and although North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein have said they want to start licensing programmes, they have yet to launch those systems.

That means that there is “0 percent channelisation” in table games right now, according to Quermann.

That is, Germans cannot legally play online roulette or blackjack, as anyone who wants a virtual slots or poker licence is meant to have shut their online table games operations.

Still, in any case, German companies say they welcome stepped-up enforcement.

About 51 percent of German players have used an unlicensed service, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by the DSWV.

“We as licensed operators are competing with pirates that don’t play by the rules,” Dahms said.

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