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Current Legal Landscapes: Germany

In this article, we’ll review the current legal landscape for Germany, one of the world’s most in-flux, legally speaking, nations. Of particular concern to you is how Germany’s ever-changing online gaming laws impact your ability to run affiliate programs targeted toward German nationals. We’re going to address this topic in detail by analyzing past and current legislative actions and try to chart a future course for Germany’s legal stance toward online gaming.
Germany does allow state-sanctioned gambling in all 16 of its states, but under a 2008 law, all forms of gambling online are illegal in Germany, including casino games, sports betting, online lotteries, and online bingo. The enforcement of this law includes ISP censorship of online gambling destinations as well as bank freezes on transactions with online gambling companies’ payment processors.
Fortunately for online gambling operators within Germany, the European Union has a more lax view of online gambling. It is within the EU’s prerogative, if other member states choose, to force any state within the EU to comply with the European Union’s rules on gambling. This action was pursued in court and settled in 2010 in favor of Bwin, a major gambling operator, which promised to increase the viability of gambling in Germany.
Since then, 15 of the 16 German states passed laws which would explicitely ban brick and mortar casinos and allow a limited number of permits to run online sportsbooks. This legislation was meant to provide a layer of protection against online gambling at the state level, due to losses for anti-gambling advocates at the national level. To date, a total of 20 licenses for sportsbooks had been granted within these 15 districts.
The 16th state, Schleswig-Holstein, has vehemetly opposed this movement. They have issued a total of 27 licenses, including 15 sportsbook licenses and 12 online casino licenses. So far, the licenses have included names like 888, Betfair, Ladbrokes, PokerStars, Bwin, bet365, Tipico, and many others.
What does this mean for affiliates interested in expanding into the German market? It would seem to be smooth sailing ahead. Even if the rest of Germany opts not to follow Schleswig-Holstein’s example to allow gambling freely within their borders, the European Union could, at any time, force Germany’s hand. We could also see gradual easing of restrictions in other states around Germany. As online gambling provides a strong source of tax revenue for the state, many politicans will see online gaming as an opportunity to add some much-needed revenue to their own coffers.