Online Casinos, Slots and Offers in Germany 2020
In March 2020 it was made clear that Germany is to permit online casino games, based on a regulatory framework that comes into effect on July 1st 2021. There will be a transitional period from October 2020 requiring online casinos in Germany to implement a number of major restrictions immediately.
One of the restrictions is that no online casino is allowed to use the word “casino” anywhere in promotions or on the site. Several game types and features are also now banned, such as table games, jackpots, auto spin and playing on multiple slots simultaneously. There is also a €1,000 deposit limit plus a €1 per-spin limit on slots.
Use the online casino top list to find operators that accept players from your location.
About Online Gambling in Germany
The gambling laws in the German market are rather complex in comparison to other countries. Over the years, legislation in Germany changed several times.
The first of the changes was a blanket ban on all forms of gambling online, with the exception of betting on horse racing. However, this strict ruling was called into question and was even labelled a monopoly by some. Today, gambling is a popular pastime in Germany and the now-legal industry has resulted in a turnover of billions of euro in recent years.
It was between 2008 and 2012 that gambling was declared illegal in Germany under federal regulations. Strangely, it remained legal in Schleswig-Holstein during this time, because the State refused to sign up to the treaty that others agreed to. In 2012, the government introduced new legislation to regulate and licence online casinos and all other forms of gambling.
The situation in Germany is considered complex because it remains largely unregulated. However, the country is moving towards an official licensing program. Let’s take a look at the laws that currently exist.
German Online Gambling Laws
The laws that currently affect online casinos in Germany are the interstate law, also known as the Glücksspielstaatsvertrag, and the Glückspeilgesetz. The former is an arrangement between the nation’s separate states which came into effect in 2008, but has been updated recently. It now permits online lotteries to be operated. Additionally, the bidding process for nearly two dozen online sports betting operators is in the works.
Only Schleswig-Holstein refused to sign up to the general rule – they used the Glückspeilgesetz instead, which came into effect in 2012. Later on, however, the state did sign up to the Glücksspielstaatsvertrag, throwing the legality of the other law into some doubt.
Online Casino Regulation in Germany
The interstate Glücksspielstaatsvertrag is currently the most important piece of regulation for the German online casino industry. When it first arrived in 2008, it imposed heavy restrictions that made gambling largely illegal in the country. The aim of these restrictions was to prevent citizens from becoming addicted to gambling, as well as combating fraud and other gambling-related crimes. The treaty’s original form contained no provisions for regulating online casino operations.
This changed dramatically when the law was updated at the end of 2011. Several of the laws of Glücksspielstaatsvertrag were amended, enabling provisions to allow online lotteries. A maximum of sports betting licences were also issued, with a 5% tax imposed on the operators’ annual turnover. It was at this point that Schleswig-Holstein decided to sign up to the treaty.
Today, the 16 Federal States of Germany each has its own legislation relating to online casinos. This has raised concerns about the fact there is no united national system for the country. States are not even required to collaborate in any way, with the result being that people were subject to different laws depending on which German state you are in.
Schleswig-Holstein has always had the most liberal approach to its gambling laws. The state has issued around 50 licences which includes web-based casinos. There are also many international online casinos that welcome players from Germany.
Tax on Winnings in Germany
For players, gambling winnings remain tax-free, though German authorities have been known to make it difficult to collect winnings from unregulated offshore casinos. Players in Germany are advised to check with their bank to ensure it will be possible to process deposits and withdrawals to/from online casinos.
As Germany does not have a formal regulator for the online gambling market (though this looks to change in July 2021), and it is state law that governs it, there is no formal complaint procedure to be followed. Players frequently play at international casinos, but if they fall foul of dishonest practices, the local authorities cannot be called upon to protect their interests.
As such, players in Germany are largely on their own. It is good practice to check the legitimacy of any international casino before you play there. Their license should be visible on the main page and if they lack any licensing then you should approach with caution. MGA and UKGC-regulated casinos are the safest options, or you could play at one of the locally-regulated casinos in Schleswig-Holstein.
There has been opposition to gambling in all its forms for thousands of years, but always twice as much support for it. Germany has chopped and changed its attitude towards all forms of gambling over the last few decades and today it is something of a grey area. Let’s take a look at the timeline of how legislation has changed in recent times.
This was the year that the Interstate Gambling Treaty was brought into law. All online casino and all forms of brick-and-mortar gambling were declared illegal, with the exception of horse racing. Internet companies blocked access to gambling websites to help enforce this law.
The German gambling industry comes under criticism from the EU for being monopolistic.
The state of Schleswig-Holstein becomes the only state to legalise online gambling. A number of licenses were issued to online casinos, sportsbooks and poker operators to provide legal gambling operations to citizens of the state.
When changes were made to the Interstate Treaty, Schleswig-Holstein joined the other 15 German States in signing up. However, all previously-issued licences would remain valid until at least 2018.
A law was passed in Germany to allow more overseas operators to accept German players. Whilst this enabled German citizens to get in on the online casino market, the EU Commission did not consider this overhaul to be a “viable solution”.
The licences issued by Schleswig-Holstein expired. During negotiations on amendments to the treaty, the state threatened to leave unless a viable consensus on online gambling could be reached. As a result, the gambling licenses in Schleswig-Holstein were granted an extension – citizens and operators in the state can now continue with online gambling until June 2021. However, the other German states do not currently have any urgent plans to put online gambling legislation on the agenda.
In October 2020 all casino operators in Germany were told they had to remove all table games and introduce a €1 per-spin cap on slots. The restrictions are to remain in place until the new gambling regulation framework comes into effect in July 2021. Operators were given only a couple of weeks to implement the severe restrictions, considered an unrealistically tight schedule by most operators.
On July 1st 2021 the new online casino regulation comes into effect, legalising online casino and poker. Slots are required to have a €1 per spin stake limit and must be offered in a way that is separate from table games, with no autoplay or jackpot. Individual states can decide to allow or disallow table games altogether. A mandatory deposit limit of €1,000 will apply and operators can’t advertise between 06:00 and 21:00.
Are online casinos legal in Germany?
Yes, from October 2020 they are regulated by a new regulatory framework that comes into full effect on July 1st 2021.
There are some severe restrictions on online casinos operating legally in Germany however, compared to most other countries. There is a €1,000 deposit limit and a €1 max per-spin stake on slots. Additionally, table games, jackpots and several game features, like auto-spin, are banned.
From July 2021 it may be the case that some German states can choose to allow table games. Some states might decide to have a monopoly on such games rather than allowing online casinos to offer them.