German online gambling operators are facing a major challenge this week as both Visa and Mastercard have begun slowly cutting off payment processing to this market. It’s a move that doesn’t appear to be rolling out, or being enforced, with any consistency and is indicative of the confusion that seems to be the German online gambling market’s defining feature.
According to a report on CalvinAyre.com, German-facing casino affiliates had been reporting the Visa and Mastercard cutoffs for more than a week. That said, the payment processors appear to have let some operators continue moving money while others have been cut off. For example, the site reports that GVC Holdings-associated sites are still accepting payment by Visa and Mastercard, while Tipico, a local operator, is not accepting payment via these processors.
The challenge for any online gambling operator looking to serve the German market is the patchwork of laws governing the market. Each German state generally has its own gambling laws, though there is some consistency from time to time. Further complicating the issue is a Kafkaesque series of legal decisions and battles surrounding sports betting licenses that make working this particular market particularly challenging.
Earlier this year the Lower Saxony Ministry of the Interior, which oversees gambling regulations in the country’s largest state, began a crackdown on payment processors who worked with the online gambling industry. That effort, however, appeared to be strictly limited to illegal operators. The current efforts to pull Visa and Mastercard from the online gambling market is impacting regulated operators.
For now, confusion seems to be the only consistent factor governing payment processing in the German online gambling market.