The German “super regulator” may at last be freer to make independent decisions from January 1, 2023 if a representative of the regulator is correct.
The German online gambling industry has been frustrated by the fact that 14 months after licensing was launched, only nine companies have been approved for virtual slots licences from the more than 70 applicants and zero virtual poker approvals have been granted.
Some blame the delays on the influence of the Glücksspielkollegium, the Gambling Committee, a group of gambling regulators from the 16 German states.
It currently has veto power over the interim regulator that scrutinises applications and new “super regulator”, the Joint Gaming Authority of the Federal States (GGL), which has been gaining authority in stages over most online gambling regulation from July 1 of this year.
The GGL is meant to have full authority over gambling issues, other than online table games, which are reserved for the states, by January.
The Gambling Committee’s influence is scheduled to cease by the end of 2022, but some have been concerned that the GGL’s board of directors, comprising representatives of the 16 states, will continue the states’ allegedly heavy-handed influence over the agency.
But Nadja Wierzejewski, the GGL’s head of enforcement, said that she expects that the agency will have considerable autonomy.
She was speaking at Gaming in Germany 2022 in Berlin on Monday (September 19), which continues today.
Her remarks, made in German, were translated simultaneously, and she later told VIXIO GamblingCompliance that she believed the board would handle the big picture issues, while the GGL staff would handle the day-to-day details of regulation.
If her assertion about independence of the agency turns out to be the case, that would be a relief to the German online gambling industry, which has concerns about tight regulation that includes a heavy tax load, monthly deposit limits, limits on slots stakes and spin speed and tax.
On the same podium, German Sports Betting Association (DSWV) president Mathias Dahms later said the industry is concerned about decisions that it perceives as being clouded with “politics and ideology”, but it is much more confident with the GGL as it gains skills and competence.
Gambling attorney Joerg Hofmann joked that the Gambling Committee’s role in decision-making was like having “your dad” still making choices for you when you are an adult.
No one from the Gambling Committee was present to offer a differing opinion.
But the GGL has already demonstrated a measure of independence.
In June, the Gambling Committee said it believed a transitional arrangement on virtual slots was dead and anyone offering such games without a licence should be considered “unreliable”, a status that would make licensing approval unlikely.
The hard-line stance was especially irksome to many in the industry, given the delays in licensing approvals. In response, officials had earlier claimed that many applications were incomplete.
But in July, the GGL made it clear that its top priority for enforcement would be gambling companies that have not applied for a licence, a statement that suggested operators with legitimate applications would not have to pull out while they awaited a verdict on their licence.
An academic who works with gambler protection issues in the psychology department at the University of Mainz said she thinks the transition away from regulatory oversight by the Gambling Committee will be positive.
“It’s easier to make decisions”, as the committee often took instructions from ministers who do not have the expertise in gambling issues that the GGL is seeking to develop, Anke Quack told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.