German Ministers Ratify Gambling Legislation

The Minister-Presidents of the 16 federal states in Germany have approved the new regulatory framework that is to be implemented in the country. The new framework is due to come into effect from July after the legislation was signed off on behalf of the different federal states that make up the nation in a virtual meeting chaired in Berlin.

A stack of chips next to dice on top of a laptop.

It has been a long road to legalize all forms of gambling in Germany, but the ratification of the new State Treaty on Gambling is a big step towards the opening of a regulated market in the country. It has not been the easiest legislation to pass, but since March, it has seemed likely that this iteration of the GlüNeuRStV looks set to come into law next year. ©AidanHowe/Pixabay

The meeting that was held remotely, but chaired in the German capital, took place from the 28th to the 30th of October. The agreement between the Minister-Presidents to ratify the new regulations and represents a critical step in bringing the Glücksspielneuregulierungstaatsvertrag (GlüNeuRStV) into law. A draft version of the legislation had already been approved in March this year, and no intervention was made by the European Commission when it was notified of the plans.

Once the new regulated market has been launched across the country, it will open up the online gambling market in Germany to all forms of gambling. This will see online casino games, like slot games as well as poker, and sports betting legalized nationwide. It will also maintain the monopoly that the federal states currently hold on lotteries, which can also be extended to table games at their discretion.

Response to the GlüNeuRStV

DLTB’s Response

Of the many that have offered opinions on the new legislation, one of the most influential has been the Deutscher Lotto und Totoblock (DLTB). This is an umbrella organization that represents the different state lotteries in the country. It has hailed the new legislation as evidence that lotteries will play a big role in the growing online gambling market.

The current chairman of the association is Jürgen Häfner, who is also the managing director of Lotto Rheinland-Pfalz. In a statement released in the wake of the agreement, he was full of praise for the Minister-Presidents. In his estimation, the very fact that all 16 representatives were able to come to an agreement is evidence that the current model of federal regulation is working well.

The DLTB and its member operators will continue to follow the requirements that are set out in the GlüNeuRStV, according to Häfner. This will allow these operators to continue to offer a diverse and engaging portfolio of games to consumers whilst ensuring a high level of player protection and safety on their services.

What DAW Had to say on the Matter

Another group that has voiced its opinion on the GlüNeuRStV is the gaming hall association for the country, Deutsche Automatenwirtschaft (DAW). This group was also very welcoming of the new legislation, stating that the new market would result in qualitative criteria being applied to the gambling halls in Germany for the first time.

These criteria will allow states to offer multiple licenses to different operators in the region. This could see the different member states offering licenses to private entities to provide lotteries, slots, and gaming halls to the public in the area. Whilst the states could outsource the services, they will also maintain the right to determine the minimum distances licensees must maintain between their venues.

DAW then went on to state the importance of the quality of the gaming halls that they offer licenses to operate within their jurisdictions. The association has suggested that the states should be able to rely on this quality, alongside other concession and the minimum distances that will be required to provide a safe and reliable service to German citizens.

Georg Stecker, the spokesman for DAW, also released a statement on the agreement between the Minister-Presidents. He also made an effort to praise the politicians for reaching the agreement comprehensively and in good time. His words focused on the long years of negotiations that took place to get to the situation we are in now.

Lotto Baden-Württemberg’s Two Cents

This praise does not mean that the legislation is completely home and dry now, however. According to Georg Wacker, the managing director of Lotto Baden-Württenmberg, the pressure is now on the states themselves to push it over the line. The spokesman has suggested that the ball is in their court now, and they must act quickly to implement the decision.

Wacker said that this is essential so that the wheels are set in motion to convert the State Treaty into exercisable and valid state law. This will allow the regulations to be seamlessly implemented by the target date of the 1st of July 2021.

Wacker and Häfner both agreed that it was of paramount importance that the new regulated market would be strictly controlled in Germany. This control will hinge on the new regulatory body that is being established. This regulator is due to be based in the state of Sachsen-Anhalt and, in the opinion of the DLTB chair and Wacker, cannot come quickly enough to ensure the safety of the market.

Häfner stated that such haste in getting the organization up and running would help to make the control stronger and would allow the regulator to take a more coordinated approach to opening the market. This, according to the DLTB chairman, would help to get a handle on the participants in the market early on and would improve the protection of underage Germans.

He also suggested that the regulator would need to quickly and strictly crackdown on operators in the market that would not adhere to the regulations in the region in which they are licensed. This will make controlling such entities earlier, as decisive action will set a precedent in the market.

Wacker built on this, doubling down on the point that the supervisory body would be pivotal for the protection of the young and vulnerable gamblers in the country. He echoed the calls for the regulator to get up and running as soon as possible. Wacker said this would improve the protection of underage gamblers, as it would be able to take charge of the market from the get-go.

He stated it would be important to close any legal loopholes when it became apparent that operators were exploiting them. Alongside this, Wacker believes that any found to be infringing on the new rules should be quickly punished for their transgressions in order to avoid the State Treaty on Gambling from being viewed as nothing more than scraps of paper.

Such an approach could help to improve cooperation between operators and legislators, as both would be working towards a safer market where player protection and responses to threats like problem gambling are prioritized. According to Wacker, this cannot work in a market where the authorities are viewed as weak, and so, they must act quickly to impose their control on German gambling.

Whilst the new legislation will not come into effect fully until July of next year, operators that have agreed to comply with the regulations set out in it have been allowed to offer their services to the public early. This transition period started on the 15th of October and has seen these operators providing online games to German citizens since.

These temporary regulations that are in place until July stipulate that operators should comply with the player protection controls that the new State Treaty places so much emphasis on. Additionally, all table games have been removed from these operator’s websites, and there is a €1 slot stake cap per spin on all slot games.

Licenses to offer sports betting were finally awarded on the 9th of October, after being delayed for years by legal challenges, leaving 15 licensees at present in the German market, with more surely to come.

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Sunset at Brandenburger Tor in Berlin.

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