Germany is home to ten percent of the world’s online gamblers. That seems unlikely for a country the size of Germany. But when you consider that Germany is the world’s third largest economy in nominal GDP, it’s not so surprising. German citizens have more disposable income than most other countries citizens. And the fact that Germany is home to the world’s first legal casino, dating back to 1765, gambling is an accepted form of entertainment to most Germans. That is, except for the German government.
Prohibitive government policies towards gambling and online gambling have been enacted in recent years. This restrictive legislation is in direct conflict with the generally liberal gambling laws of the EU. Opposition from the EU has been supported in court, which is effecting change in Germany, but that change is coming slowly. The protectionist attitudes and policies adopted by the German government have not stopped Germans from gambling. Nor has it stopped European online casinos from making it easy for German gamblers to access sports wagering, online poker and casinos online. German law gave permission for ISP’s to block access to online casinos and other gambling portals. They also made it illegal for German banks to accept transactions from betting sites. ISP blocking didn’t happen and German banks weren’t a factor.
The pressure being applied by the EU for Germany to take a more equitable approach to online gambling is slowly working. German legislators are beginning to realize that the gambling online industry can provide a substantial boost to state tax revenues. This past week, March 18, 2016, Germany’s sixteen state ministers enacted legislation that would double the number of sports betting licenses. Germany did award twenty sports betting licenses in 2014, but none have been activated due to legal challenges by the unsuccessful candidates. So now, there are forty available licenses but no operators yet. The state ministers rejected proposals that would have allowed the license holders to include online wagering options for poker and other casino table games, such as blackjack, roulette, video poker and baccarat. It looks as though nothing really happened, but a little progress is better than none.
This still leaves Germany in violation of EU law. It is believed that because of Germany’s failed gambling regime, the European Commission is preparing infringement proceedings. There’s no word on whether this latest vote by Germany concerning gambling licenses will forestall proceedings by the EU.