Germany Online Casino Guide

Gambling Industry Overview in Germany

The following approaches will be presented

  • Gambling legislation in Germany
  • Gambling authorities in Germany
  • Online casinos in Germany
  • and more

The gambling laws in Germany are considered somehow complex. The situation gets even more serious if taking into account the fact that the legislation has been changed several times over the years.

Flag of GermanyThese changes started with the full ban of all forms of online gaming and betting, except form horse racing betting. These rules, however, were questioned and the system was even accused in monopolism.

Still, a great number of the German population are involved with gambling activities as part of their pastime. The legalized industry has brought a turnover of billions of euro over the past several years.


Gambling has long had legal status in Germany. In its recent history, the local state authorities were the once entitled with the right and responsibility of regulating gambling on the territory of the country. Nowadays, however, gaming and gambling activities in Germany are monitored and controlled on a higher level.

In the period between 2008 and 2012, gambling was declared as illegal in the country under its federal regulation. The only exception was the state of Schleswig-Holstein, where gambling was legalized. After this period, the Government of the country introduced new rules aimed at the regulation and licensing procedures of local gambling operators.

As mentioned above, Gambling in Germany is in a complex legal situation up to date, because it is still largely unregulated. The country, however, is currently making its steps towards an official licensing program. The situation related to gambling legislation in Germany is still pretty complex due to the fact there are two laws existing – the interstate law, which is called Glücksspielstaatsvertrag (The German Interstate Treaty), and the Glückspeilgesetz.

The so-called Glücksspielstaatsvertrag is an arrangement between the separate states in the country. It took effect in 2008, but it has recently been updated. As a result, online lotteries in the country can now be operated. In addition, the bidding process concerning the licences of about 20 online sports betting operator is currently on the agenda.

As we have already mentioned, the state of Schleswig-Holstein was the only exception of the general rule and was also the only state not to sign the Glücksspielstaatsvertrag. It has its own law called Glückspeilgesetz that came into effect in 2012. Later in 2012, after a change of state government, the state made a decision of signing the Glücksspielstaatsvertrag, which made the legality of its other law uncertain.

Currently, there is a large number of casinos and authorized gambling centres on the territory of Germany. These ventures are strictly regulated, but the heavy control has not made gambling less popular in the country.

Relevant Legislation in Germany

Gambling Legislation in GermanyThe Glücksspielstaatsvertrag (the German Interstate Treaty) is considered as the most important piece of the current country’s regulation. The law came into effect on January 1st, 2008. A total of 15 of the 16 German federal states signed it.

At first, heavy restrictions were imposed by the law’s original form. The restrictions were aimed at protecting local players from gambling addictions, as well as preventing frauds and other crimes that are related to gambling. The original version of the German Interstate Treaty also did not contain any provisions concerning the regulation of online gambling operations.

The latter changed immensely when the law was updated almost four years later – on December 15th, 2011. The changes made in the Glücksspielstaatsvertrag included several aspects of the law amended. First, there were some provisions related to allowing the online lotteries offering. Then, there were several provisions to issue a maximum of 20 online sports betting licences, in return to 5% tax on the operators’ yearly turnover.

Later that year – on July 24th, 2012, the only state that have not signed the agreement – Schleswig-Holsten – announced its decision to sign.

Online Gambling

Internet Gambling in GermanyThere is a total of 16 Federal States in Germany. All of them have their own legislation related to online poker play and online gambling. However, the largest concern related to them is provoked by the fact that there is not a unite national system that every state is subjected to.

In addition, there was also no idea for neighbouring states to work in collaboration when it comes to legislation matters in order to create similarity between players in different states. The complexity of the country’s legislation originates from the fact that players in every state are subjected to different laws.

As a whole, online gambling in Germany has had a complicated history until about three years ago. The industry was mainly unregulated until 2008, when a federal ban was imposed on online gambling operations with the German Interstate Treaty. The only exception were wagers on horse racing. All other forms of online wagering – casino games, sports betting, lotteries and bingo – were proclaimed legal only if offered offline.

The Treaty, however, caused some problems, because the European Commission was referred to by the European Gaming and Betting Association on the matters of the current gambling legislation in the country, which was said to have been violating the European Union rules. The European Court of Justice came up with a ruling in 2010, according to which the gambling industry in Germany was monopolised. This made it necessary for it to be liberalised.

The state of Schleswig-Holstein is the only state in the country that has already come up with its own gambling bill that legalizing web-based gambling operations. Online casino operators were provided with the opportunity to apply for a licence in the state in 2012. At the beginning of 2013, the state voted in parliament in favor of officially joining the Treaty, which made all 16 states part of it.

Schleswig-Holstein was the state that has always been most focused on creating its own and more liberal gambling laws. As a result about 50 licenses to online sports bookmakers, web-based casinos and poker rooms were issued. The state also provided some of the largest online gambling operators, such as Bet365, Betfair and Poker Stars.

The initiative of passing its own bill regulating online gambling was actively supported by the EU Commission. The state’s current legislation allows players to play online casino games within the borders of the state. In addition, the new rules are considered able to not only open the market, but also create favorable conditions for business development, because of the licences that are issued by the state.

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