Germany Must Take Action Against Illegal Operators, Says Addiction Commissioner

November 8, 2023
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Germany’s gambling regulator has held a meeting with the federal government's addiction and drug commissioner, Burkhard Blienert, to discuss online gambling player protection measures and regulatory challenges posed by the black market.
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Germany’s gambling regulator has held a meeting with the federal government's addiction and drug commissioner, Burkhard Blienert, to discuss online gambling player protection measures and regulatory challenges posed by the black market.

The Joint Gambling Authority of the States (GGL) provided Blienert with a 32-page report on November 6 aimed at helping to educate consumers about illegal gambling sites, as well as providing useful information for treatment service providers.

During the meeting, the GGL board presented its approaches and detailed its successes in tackling illegal gambling, as well as identifying current challenges in the regulation of the gambling market, “such as divergent approaches by GGL and the gambling industry when collecting data on the size of the illegal gambling market”, according to a press release.

Research and new developments in the early detection of gambling addiction were also on the discussion agenda.

“The common goal is to weaken the illegal gambling market as well as to ensure player and youth protection and to avoid gambling addiction,” the GGL said. 

GGL board member Benjamin Schwanke said the regulator is also “working intensively” to help ensure that the telephone advice arm of the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) continues to be available to people with gambling problems.

Blienert added: “The hotline is an important component when it comes to simple and uncomplicated initial contact with advice about an addiction or dependency. Because the suffering is so great, we need a good and reliably financed aid system. We really need to take action, especially when it comes to illegal gambling.”

The commissioner added that, “in just one evening, illegal gamblers can lose everything and find themselves in real dire straits. I'm alarmed by figures like that around 1.4 million people in Germany are addicted to gambling - and millions more are at risk.”

Blienert went on to warn that the risk of addiction posed by sports betting is “greatly underestimated” and that the “risk of suicide among gambling addicts is higher than with any other addiction”.

He argues that this makes the GGL’s job of preventing illegal gambling key to improving player and youth protections.

“It's good that the authority is already evaluating the 2021 State Treaty on Gambling and is explicitly focusing on possible gaps. The newly published brochure also helps consumers to better distinguish between illegal and legal gambling,” Blienert said.

Recently, the GGL celebrated support from a Saxony-Anhalt court for its €50,000 fine issued in September against Red Rhino casino for breaching a so-called “prohibition order”. The regulator said at the time that the operator had closed its dot.de website, but that the dot.com version was still available to German players.

The state’s Higher Administrative Court said in an announcement on October 27 that it had rejected Malta-based Red Rhino’s appeal.

It also added judicial backing to the GGL’s efforts to restrict black market operations by targeted payment providers.

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