German Regulator Disputes Industry View That Rules Are Too Strict

February 16, 2024
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​​​​​​​The German regulator has pushed back against the view that overly strict interpretations of gambling law are driving players to the black market.
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The German regulator has pushed back against the view that overly strict interpretations of gambling law are driving players to the black market.

Two gambling trade groups, the German Sports Betting Association (DSWV) and the German Online Casino Association (DOCV), have complained that tough gambling laws, plus what they call too-rigid interpretations of the law, are handicapping the legal market.

The DSWV added data to that view on Thursday (February 15) in its annual press conference, where it said gambling stakes dropped 5.4 percent last year to €7.7bn , while advertising spending fell 60 percent from 2019 to €138m.

Departures from the German market over the past year include Kindred’s Unibet and LeoVegas, association officials said. BetVictor has also ended a partnership with Das Bild newspaper.  

But late Tuesday (February 14), the Joint Gaming Authority of the States (GGL) said that the industry was “once again informed” that the 2021 interstate gambling treaty “is the relevant set of rules for the GGL”.

“The authority acts exclusively within the framework of the current state treaty,” the GGL wrote on its website.

“Authorised gambling providers benefit from the newly created legal certainty. You should therefore not generally compare yourself with players in the illegal gambling market.”

GGL representatives had addressed a sore topic — slow approval of slots games — last week at a Gaming in Germany breakfast at ICE London 2024, and they repeated their message on Tuesday.

Organisers of the games need to “submit applications that can be approved”, and supply “proper test environments”, the GGL said.

“Nevertheless, the authority also expressed optimism and is looking forward to a good year in 2024,” the GGL wrote.

At the DSWV’s streamed press conference, president Mathias Dahms said the menu for allowed sports bets in Germany is only 13 percent of that in the UK.

In contrast, Sweden’s list of permitted sports bets is 78 percent of the UK’s and the Netherlands’ is 75 percent, Dahms said.

With the UEFA Euro 2024 championships set for Germany this year, many new bettors will be looking to open betting accounts, he said.

So it is very important that licensed operators be allowed to advertise in order to keep players in the legal market, Dahms said.

The DSWV also called for the GGL or the Ministry of Health to launch annual surveys to gauge the extent of gambling addiction for prevention purposes.

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