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GVC chief explains the German gaming legalization

Martin Lycka, GVC Holding's head of regulatory issues, gives his view on future gaming regulation in Germany. (A short summary)

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Gambling in Germany is on the verge of a revolution. The regulation will enter into force in July 2021 and will make it possible to register an unlimited number of providers of sports games, virtual slot machines, and online poker games. A limited number of online casino game providers will also be allowed. This reorganization of German gambling regulation is the result of a treaty between federal states and is subject to their individual assessment and defined boundaries.

Martin Lycka believes that many of these requirements are neither effective nor necessary in terms of player protection. He believes that the measures are counterproductive to their stated goal of channeling players to licensed and legal suppliers. Restrictions include:

  • A ban of live streaming on betting sites.
  • No commercial advertising on radio and internet for virtual slot machines, online poker and casino games between 6am and 9pm.
  • A one-minute delay for customers when they switch between different games on the same internet domain, such as from sports betting to virtual slot machines.
  • A five-minute delay when switching between different gambling sites.
  • A €1 stake limit on virtual slot machines.
  • In-play sports betting limited to the final score and associated markets; however, this situation remains unclear.

Regional inconsistency is inevitable for online casino table games. The 16 German states are free to ban such products altogether or impose borders, either unilaterally or in step with other states. Given the limited number of concessions that may be allowed, a monopoly or oligopoly will be formed. It is obvious that this means an unclear area of play and is therefore very dubious under EU law. This is also in contrast to the legal provisions for virtual slot machines, online poker and online sports betting, which can be offered across the country in an open state model.

Martin Lycka further believes that the restrictions on the new rules will make licensed products much less attractive and less competitive than their unlicensed counterparts. There is, therefore, a big risk that customers will move to the black market, where there is zero responsibility, zero protection and where zero tax is paid.

* (Our notice) Before the new State Treaty enters into force, the German Government must send it to the European Commission for approval. This is a mandatory step for some laws, especially those concerning online services.