German Regulator Refers Cases For Criminal Prosecution

January 11, 2023
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Germany’s newly empowered gambling authority has said regulators have filed more than 60 prohibition orders and referred more than 30 cases for criminal prosecution.

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Germany’s newly empowered gambling authority has said regulators have filed more than 60 prohibition orders and referred more than 30 cases for criminal prosecution.

The regulator, the Joint Authority of the Federal States (GGL), said it has begun procedures to launch website and payment blocking and it would like to see a special prosecutor’s office set up in Saxony-Anhalt’s Halle to facilitate a crackdown on illegal operators.

Initial feedback on cases referred to courts suggests that the blocking requests will be successful, the authority said.

The regulator held a press conference on Tuesday (January 10), the first since it assumed full authority for most gambling and lottery regulation on January 1.

Previously, Hesse’s Darmstadt Regional Council had authority over sports betting, while the Saxony-Anhalt administrative office reviewed online slots and poker licences.

Many of the enforcement cases were inherited from these two agencies.

The authority itself has reviewed 1,150 websites for violations and many operators removed their unauthorised offers when contacted, the GGL said.

Individual states retain authority over online table games, such as roulette and blackjack, and can elect to bar them or restrict their use to a state-owned monopoly if they choose.

The regulator vowed to take action against licensees if they offer gambling services for which they are not licensed.

That suggests a promise to take action against, say, a sports-betting licensee offering online slots or poker to German players without first obtaining the additional licence.

“We will revoke permits if we find serious violations,” chairman Ronald Benter said in a statement issued by the GGL.

“Because our goal is a level playing field for all providers, we want to ensure that any illegal or non-compliant business model offering gambling on the internet is not sustainable in the long run,” he said.

Currently, 38 brands have sports-betting licences and 22 have been awarded permits for virtual slots.

Some applications are pending deposit of a required €5m security, a process which can take weeks or months.

But applications for approvals of individual games are lagging, with only 600 of 3,500 games submitted for testing approved so far, the regulator said.

Many applications are deficient in areas as simple as submitting game instructions in English rather than German, according to Benter, who suggested that operators need to coordinate better with game developers.

The GGL currently employs about 75 people, a figure that is expected to rise to at least 104.

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