The German gambling industry would like to see the Joint Gambling Authority of the States (GGL) hold consultations on gambling policy like the UK’s Gambling Commission does, lawyers have said.
The GGL does talk with the industry, but a more open and transparent process, including consultations on policy changes, would help clarify issues and avoid potential lawsuits, said Michelle Hembury of Melchers law firm.
The German gambling industry complains about a restrictive regime that has cut into profits and fuelled claims that the black market is growing at the expense of the licensed market.
The most recent numbers suggest online slots are hardest hit, with tax receipts falling almost 39 percent in 2023 to just over €264m, according to Germany’s Ministry of Finance.
An interim evaluation of the effectiveness of the Interstate Treaty on Gambling, which took effect in July 2021, is expected to be released before the end of this quarter, said Simon Priglinger-Simader, a regulatory affairs attorney for Entain.
The full evaluation is due by the end of 2026.
Both attorneys spoke on a webinar on Tuesday (January 30) sponsored by the German Online Casino Association (DOCV).
One set of restrictions is a €1,000 monthly limit on deposits, which can be raised for individuals to €30,000 a month, with submission of evidence that the player can afford such a gambling habit.
But the evidence process has proved more complicated than expected, with operators getting letters back from the GGL, rather than approval, Hembury said.
The GGL supplies a kind of FAQ page on the limits, but that should be viewed as “informative” rather than definitive, she said.
Last year, several courts addressed challenges to advertising restrictions, but frustratingly for the industry, they did not accept arguments that being able to advertise gambling is a key way for licensed operators to differentiate themselves from illegal operators, Hembury said.
The operators had been trying to maintain that advertising is a key way of meeting the treaty’s goal of channelling online gambling to legal outlets, she said.
Still, one court case indirectly may have loosened ad restrictions, at least slightly.
A Magdeburg court ruled that influencers did not have to pull their slots and poker information from the internet between 6am and 9pm, times when TV, radio and online gambling ads are banned, Hembury said.
But Priglinger-Simader noted that two and a half years after online gambling was legalised, there are still no states that have approved online casino games.
That leaves games such as roulette, blackjack or baccarat to the illegal market.
North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s largest state by population, is expected to publish licensing information this quarter, but the majority of German states are expected to try to limit online casino to state monopolies, he said.