Gaming Regulation In Germany: What Travellers Need To Know

Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria

For those of you who travel to Germany on a regular basis or are planning to travel there this year and like a little flutter from time-to-time, you may find this article on the country’s peculiar regulations of particular interest.

The saga of Germany’s online gaming regulations hit its fifth year in 2017, an unprecedented amount of deliberating for a country renowned for its efficiency. Online gambling is largely outlawed in Germany; there is some discrepancy because it is most certainly illegal to host a gambling website in the country, but the legality of actually placing bets online is a little more undefined.

Roulette Wheel

Despite this, online gambling is hugely popular in Germany, with players utilising online services which originate outside the country, such as, which offers German players a huge amount of safe options for casino-based fun. This is a perfectly legal loophole, as foreign operators aren’t beholden to Germany’s laws, but it does come with a caveat; if anything unwholesome were to happen to a German player’s money during their online excursions with dubious online casinos, there are no laws to protect them and they’d have to take the loss on the chin.

To combat this, the German government rightly wanted to instil some laws to regulate online gambling in their country. This effort began in 2012 with the introduction of the Interstate Treaty on Gambling, which sought to unite the country’s sixteen states under one law. However, under the proposed legislation, there were only twenty betting licences available, which rankled the local courts, so the proposal was retracted so adjustments could be made. The Treaty was also criticised as it would only legalise sports betting, limiting Germany’s attractiveness to international operators. In the following years, more resistance came from the Court of Justice of the European Union, which claimed that the Treaty violated laws on the free movement of services with the EU.

Poker Chips

Cut to 2017, and a fresh new Treaty has been drawn up, this time with forty betting licenses up for grabs, though still solely for sports betting. This was approved by the sixteen German states in March. The EU however, had a different view, and claimed that it still imposed too many limitations, even though all thirty-five international operators who applied for online gambling licenses in Germany would be covered by the proposed forty quotas.

Despite this, the law is set to go into effect in Germany on the 1st January 2018. All plain sailing from here on out you might think; but hold on, the state of Schleswig-Holstein has announced that it intends to change its mind on its support of the Interstate Treaty, and intends to implement a state-wide Act, which would see online casinos joining the ranks of legality. With other states making noise about following Schleswig-Holstein’s lead, it seems that it’s still all to play for when it comes to the Germain online gambling market; how exactly the chips will fall remains to be seen.

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