While some German states are planning licensing programmes for online table games and others support monopolies, a third group may simply procrastinate, a Germany gambling lawyer has said.
North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein have declared their intention to hold open licensing contests for online table games, while Bavaria, Brandenburg and Saxony have committed to monopolies.
Then there is a third category of German states that may want to wait.
According to attorney Wulf Hambach, states including Lower Saxony, Berlin, Hamburg and possibly Rhineland-Palatinate may wait until the planned nationwide regulator, based in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, gains authority in January 2023.
In response to questions in state parliament, Lower Saxony’s Ministry of Interior and Sport said last month that it felt it was “advisable to wait for further developments in the other states before making decisions”, plus the operation of the joint gambling authority in 2023 “is to be awaited”.
The governments are just being cautious, but such a decision would probably endanger the goal of keeping players in the regulated system, Hambach said.
“What happens to the online table game customer? Will they just wait?” he asked. “Are you crazy? They won’t wait.”
Hambach’s remarks came as he expanded on comments made during a panel at Betting on Sports Europe on Thursday in London.
The group of gambling industry executives expressed their frustration with Germany’s gambling treaty, which includes measures such as deposit limits, waiting periods for switching between sports betting and online casino, and what might be Europe’s highest gambling tax rates.
“Three years ago, I said German regulation is the most stupid regulation I’ve ever seen, and I’m still being quoted on that,” said Dominik Beier, a former Interwetten and Sportradar executive who now heads Emotion Group sports marketing agency.
The interstate treaty has been called a compromise that was politically satisfying for the prime ministers of the 16 German states, but disastrous for the goal of keeping players in a regulated system.
Imagine what US online gambling legislation would be like if New Jersey had to hammer out a deal with regulators from Texas and California, said Nico Jansen, chief executive of Bet IT Best.
“It’s an impossible mission,” he said.
Last year, German slots revenue was €6bn, this year estimates are that it will halve to €3bn, Jansen said. You can assume that difference went to the black market, he said.
“If you’re a customer, you’re going to want one-stop shopping,” Beier said. “You’re going to move to the black market, where you have one operator. It’s so stupid it’s going to be pushed to the black market.”
The players who are leaving are also most likely to be problem gamblers and most in need of the protection they are meant to get from the regulated market, he said.