To say that the German stance on online gambling has been confusing would be considered a huge understatement. The government has tried to regulate the industry but has faced many challenges along the way. Today, players are still able to access online sites, but it isn’t quite clear if they are actually breaking the law to do so.
Let’s start with the obvious: Germans love to gamble. Whether it is the slot machines, Table Games or sports betting, it is clear that millions of Germans use gambling as a form of entertainment. Many of the popular German sports teams have online gambling sites as sponsors, and this wouldn’t be the case if the market wasn’t worth the millions of dollars in investment.
Many software companies have had some of their development done in Germany, and there are a couple of companies that grew their businesses to great heights all while being based in Germany. Land-based gaming was the main outlet for players until the start of the online gambling revolution, and that is where things started to get complicated in the country.
Gambling Regulations in Germany
Gambling in Germany has always been regulated at a state level, with the national government staying at arm’s length. When the online casino industry started growing and was very popular with German players, the states wanted to do something to control the business and ensure that no money was bled from the land-based operations. In 2008, the Interstate Treaty on Gambling was tabled. This piece of legislation would effectively shut down any online gambling operations in Germany. However, only 15 of the 16 states agreed to sign the treaty, with the state of Schleswig-Holstein not willing to agree to the terms.
This was when the turmoil began. As the European Union was in full effect at this point, the EU system was always checking on individual country’s laws to ensure that they were in line with the base assumptions of the Union. In 2010, a European court found that the terms of the Interstate Treaty were unfair to citizens of Germany, and demanded that changes be made.
While all of this was going on, the state of Schleswig-Holstein was heading in a different direction, writing regulations for a legalized online gambling marketplace. These were passed into law in 2011, and by 2012 there were sites who were awarded 5-year licenses to operate legally within the state.
With one state allowing online gambling and the others banning it, you can imagine that there was some argument within the country about which direction in which to head. Finally, the other states relented and agreed to alter the text of their initial treaty. This included a provision for a limited number of online gambling licenses to be issued, each to pay a 5% tax on the handle.
In 2012, Schleswig-Holstein agreed to sign this treaty to make it unanimous, but that left its current licensees in the lurch. With those licenses set to expire in 2017, it was unclear if these companies would be given a new license. To make matters worse, the EU still considered this new treaty to be unacceptable, requiring the states to go back to the drawing board.
A new treaty was signed in 2017 which has caused even more controversy, as many states have now refused to sign the updated document into law. As a result of all this confusion, several companies have decided it is better to simply leave the market rather than risk being in violation of the law.
Online Casino Software Available for German players
Most recently, companies like the Gauselmann Group and Novomatic have pulled all of their business out of Germany, which has caused a significant hit to their bottom lines. IGT and Aristocrat also have Germany on their banned lists for the time being. However, as this is still largely an internal matter in Germany, many reputable companies continue to allow their software to be licensed by sites planning to accept German players. This includes the following companies:
- Real Time Gaming
This list will no doubt change as additional clarity is given to the legal status of online gambling in Germany, and if there are any changes, we will continue to update this page.
Best Online Casinos for German Players
One thing has remained consistent throughout this whole legal battle -players from Germany still love their slot machines. With sites based offshore are still accepting Germans who want to make deposits and play their favorite games, players still have a plethora of casinos to choose from. At our site, we review as many casinos we can find, looking at the mobile compatibility, the promotions available to players and of course what software and games are available. From these reviews, we have pulled together a list of sites that we think would be excellent choices for our German readers. Have a look at the list below, and if you want more details, you can simply click on the link and be taken to our complete review.