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German lawmakers approve turnover tax for online gambling

When online gambling goes completely legal in Germany next week, operators will be facing an onerous new tax thanks to greedy lawmakers at the Bundestag. Under the terms of a new bill that was approved earlier this week, online gambling operators will be paying an astonishing 5.3 percent tax on the turnover for games like online slots and online poker. It’s a hefty burden for licensed operators and a definite boon for black market sites.

Germany’s new tax scheme comes as the country is set to formally legalize online gambling in the new State Treaty on Gambling or Glücksspielneuregulierungstaatsvetrag (GlüNeuRStv). This treaty is the result of many years of legal and political wrangling by the German states, but may yet face serious legal challenges.

Not surprisingly, the idea of a 5.3 percent tax on turnover did not sit well with German online gambling operators. In a statement reported on by CDC Gaming Reports, it was noted that both the European Gaming and Betting Association and Der Deutsche Sportwettenverband have both registered formal complaints with the European Union regarding the new tax. Their main legal argument is that the tax is only applied to online operators, thereby giving land-based casinos a definite edge in the market.

Operators are also suggesting that a tax of this magnitude isn’t so much a benefit to the state so much as it boosts black market gambling sites. There’s little question that serious players, the ones who make big deposits, will not find an extra tax burden to be a selling point for regulated gambling.

Despite any legal challenges presented to the EU, regulated online gambling is still set for a July 1 launch all across Germany.