Gaming in Germany Newsletter – Germany issues first virtual slots license

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The State Administrative Office of Saxony-Anhalt has issued Germany's very first virtual slots license to Mernov GmbH, an apparent joint venture between Gauselmann and Novomatic.

Virtual slots were first permitted outside of Schleswig-Holstein under the Fourth State Gambling Treaty, which entered into force on July 1, 2021. It took, however, eleven months before the first virtual slots license was approved. Dozens of other license applications are still pending.

Germany's new national regulator, the Gemeinsame Glücksspielbehörde der Länder (GGL), will take over the licensing process from January 2023 onward.

Reminder | GGL leadership to speak at 2022 Gaming in Germany Conference

The two executives of Germany's national gambling regulator, Ronald Benter and Benjamin Schwanke, have confirmed their attendance at the 2022 Gaming in Germany Conference.

This event has been scheduled to take place September 19-20 at the Ritz-Carlton in Berlin. Save the date!

Currently confirmed speakers include:

  • Ronald Benter, Director, Gemeinsame Glücksspielbehörde der Länder (GGL)
  • Benjamin Schwanke, Director, Gemeinsame Glücksspielbehörde der Länder (GGL)
  • Dr. Jörg Hofmann, Senior Partner, Melchers Law Firm; Past President IMGL
  • Dr. Tilman Becker, Director, TC Becker Consult
  • Birgitte Sand, CEO Birgitte Sand & Associates; former Director Spillemyndigheden

Additional speakers will be announced soon!

German regulator calls on industry to secure funding for national gambling helpline

Germany's national regulator, the Gemeinsame Glücksspielbehörde der Länder (GGL), has recently hosted a virtual roundtable discussion with various industry associations in order to secure permanent funding for the country's national gambling helpline operated by the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA).

With the re-regulation of Germany's gambling market, a new source of funding for the national gambling helpline needed be secured by 2023. All associations invited to participate in the roundtable discussion (including the online associations DOCV and DSWV) expressed interest in financially supporting the helpline.

GGL Co-Chair Ronald Benter: “We see ourselves as a coordinating body tasked with balancing the interests of players, prevention organizations, and operators. We are therefore pleased that we have succeeded in bringing the BZgA and the leading industry associations together to ensure continued funding of the helpline, as well as to jointly determine which other addiction prevention services the BZgA may offer in the future.”

German Sports Betting Association celebrates Sommerfest

After a two-year hiatus, the German Sports Betting Association (DSWV) once again celebrated its customary Sommerfest.

On May 18, industry representatives, politicians and regulators met in Berlin. The Minister of the Interior of the State of Hesse, Peter Beuth, urged other political stakeholders not to undermine the spirit of the new State Gambling Treaty (GlüStV 2021). Beuth specifically accused more conservative voices in the Gambling College (Glücksspielkollegium), the central coordinating body for the states on gambling issues, of thwarting the aims of the GlüStV 2021.

Until the end of 2022, the Gambling College has the final say on the issuing of licenses and the approval of individual bet types. Decisions require a two-thirds majority. At present, only a single virtual slots license has been issued.

The leadership of Germany's national regulator, Ronald Benter and Benjamin Schwanke, were also present. In their speech, they stressed the importance of combating illegal offers and suggested avenues for cooperation between the regulator and licensed operators, for instance with regards to the collection and evaluation of market and player data.

Mathias Dahms, President of the DSWV, called on politicians and administrators to persist in supporting the GlüStV 2021: “Now it is important to not let up.”

Germany's licensed betting operators launch lawsuit to challenge bet type restrictions

33 licensed sports betting operators have joined together to launch a lawsuit challenging the far-reaching restrictions on permitted bet types and other ancillary provisions in their respective permits.

The restrictions on in-play betting are particularly harmful to the market channelization targets and are likely to push customers to illegal offers, the claimants contend.

The defendant in the lawsuit will be the State of Hesse, which is currently in charge of overseeing the licensing of sports betting at a national level.

Higher Regional Court likely to reject operator's appeal in suit over player losses

The Frankfurt Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht Frankfurt) has indicated it is likely to reject an appeal by an online casino operator against a ruling of a Regional Court (Landesgericht) that found that an online casino operator must reimburse a player more than €26,000 they lost while playing with the operator before online casino gaming was legalized in Germany.

The Gibraltar-based operator offered its services through a German-language website. Since online casino games were not permitted outside of Schleswig-Holstein, there existed no legal basis for the implicit contract between player and operator, the Frankfurt court confirmed. Although the plaintiff also violated the ban on online casino gambling, it cannot be assumed that this ban was widely known, the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court also found.

This case marks the first time that a Higher Regional Court has sided with a player, even though the appeal may (in theory) still succeed on different grounds than originally argued in front of the Regional Court.

Trade associations join forces for European Safer Gambling Week, October 17-23, 2022

The European regulated betting and gaming industry is joining forces once again for Safer Gambling Week 2022, which will take place on October 17-23, 2022.

The European Safer Gambling Week (ESGW) is an annual cross-industry initiative to promote safer gambling in Europe and is being organized by thirteen European online gambling associations.

During the ESGW there will be a range of practical activities across European countries to raise awareness about safer gambling amongst customers, gambling companies, regulatory authorities and share information about the latest developments in safer gambling regulations, the tools available to promote safer gambling, tips on how to gamble more safely, the latest research, and much more.

The first ESWG took place in 2021 and this year’s edition will see an extended number of activities and participating associations across Europe.