Gambling in Germany

The gambling in Germany – is the legal sphere of activity, which is regulated at the legislative level and is developing in all states (regions) of the country. Nevertheless, the German gambling market today does not fully meet the requirements of the European Union, but because of this the legal organization of the gaming industry will require adjustments.

How is the gambling sphere implemented in the country? Where are the best casinos in Germany? What is the situation with online gambling and interaction with foreign gaming operators? This and much more you will know from this article “Gambling in Germany”.

The history of the gambling industry in Germany

The gambling was common in Europe, including in Germany, in the middle Ages. However, the casino as an institution focused exclusively on gambling appeared not at once. The first gambling establishment in Germany was built by Jacques Benazir at the end of the eighteenth century in the city of Wiesbaden, the administrative center of Hessen.

As for the construction of the casino, the leading architects of Germany and France were invited. The building architecture remains the French royal palaces. In order to create the compositions were used marble, bronze cascading chandeliers, and stained glass windows.

The oldest casino in Europe is operating to this day. Staying gambling establishment, it is also considered an architectural monument and one of the main attractions of Baden-Baden. The creation of Kurhaus Casino gave to Baden-Baden the status of the “summer capital” – from the first day of work, the institution has attracted people in Germany, especially during the summer holidays, although the casino is open all year round, except 7 days.

Today the Kurhaus Casino offers its visitors:

  • American and European roulette;
  • All kinds of poker;
  • Black Jack;
  • Gambling table games (bingo, keno);
  • Slot machines – video poker and slots.

In 1872, the German government passed a law banning the gambling actions. The act operated until 1933. In the twentieth century, the construction of the gambling establishments resumed. To the casino entertainments were added the slot machines, apart from the classic board games.

For the period of the Second World War the establishments, including the Casino Baden-Baden, again ceased its operations according to the gambling regulation in Germany. However, already in 1950, the operation of the casinos was reinstated. To this day, the gambling is legal in the country. However, there remain some issues concerning additional regulation. With the development of the online gambling, some aspects were not captured by the current legislation.

In 2012, was made an attempt to legalize the operation of virtual gambling. The project did not succeed. The government of land voted against the developed reform. The law on the legalization of the online gambling was operating on the territory of Schleswig-Holstein for some time but soon was canceled. Nevertheless, in this region, the foreign providers continue working with the licenses issued during the operation of the law.

The legalization of gambling in Germany

Despite the fact that in Germany there is no prohibition on gambling, the gambling segment annually replenishes the state budget, giving more than 80% of its income, a common legal framework of regulation of casino activity does not exist. Germany is divided into 16 districts (by analogy with the states in the United States or administrative regions of the Russian Federation), in the territory of each operate its own regulations regarding the organization of the gambling business.

Until today, Germany has more than hundreds of land-based gambling establishments, some of which belong to the state, and the others are managed by private operators, and the thirds are jointly owned. Geographically the casinos placement in the country isn’t proportional. Most of them are located in the southern and eastern parts, and to the north, the number of gambling establishments is reduced. The real gambling center in Germany is considered to be Baden-Baden. This city has the oldest German casino – Kurhaus Casino which is in the top ten casinos the world according to Forbes magazine. Moreover, land-based casinos can be found in other towns and cities (Bremen, Berlin, etc.).

The provision of gambling services across the country is performed according to different legislative acts adopted by the management of each district separately. So, the players, over 21 years can visit the casino in Baden-Baden because the gambling in Germany is legal. In Berlin, the gambling establishments, allow people who are 18 years old.

Regarding online casinos, most of the land has not passed a law allowing the virtual gambling establishments to operate legally. This fact was the reason for the review of gambling legislation in Germany in the EU Council. The current set of regulations does not meet the requirements of the EU to the organization of gambling business, as it does not allow foreign operators to provide services in the German lands.

Moreover, the national market does not involve the work of German online institutions. The only gambling game permitted by law – is betting on horse racing. The platform, on which you can place bets, is mostly owned by the state and a small number of licensed individuals. Foreign bookmakers do not have the right to work in the German online market. Such ban has become the basis for the petition of the EU to the Supreme Court since this is contrary to the legislative aspect of EU policy.

Land-based casinos in Germany

Today 126 gambling establishments work in Germany, they bring in the state treasury revenues in billions of euros. So, in 2012, the work of gambling establishments brought to the country's budget EUR 10.73 billion. The casinos have gambling tax in Germany, about 80% of the profits. So, the legally operating casinos annually bring substantial profits at the expense of considerable demand for gambling among the inhabitants of the country. The controlled segment of the market is 85%. These are land-based casinos and online betting on horse racing (the only permitted type of online gambling).

Rules of the land-based casinos

The German government and each land in particular, strictly regulates the visiting of the gambling establishments. First, the client of the casino can only be a citizen or a guest of Germany, 18 or 21 years old. Secondly, the provision of documents and compliance with the dress code is compulsory in all casinos. At the reception visitors will be asked to fill in a questionnaire, data which will be tracked to compile the player profiles and the timely elimination of the institution in case the client gives away places or is suspected of gambling addiction.

The game is also controlled by the workers, which have the state qualification. The main objective of the casino employees is to stop on time the player, suspected to have gambling addiction. Also, the staff monitors the work of the institution, compliance to the rules, and timeliness of cash payments.

There are no working regulations for the existing German gambling. In different places, the casinos work on their own schedule, without the strict government-appointed hours of opening and closing. Often, in the territory of a casino, other entertainment types and services are not available.

Popular casinos in Germany

The casinos are widespread in all the country. In many cities and regional centers are located one or several casinos providing gambling services list. The most popular among them are:

  • Kurhaus Casino in Baden-Baden – the Germany's oldest casino, built in XVIII century. Performed in the style of a French palace, the house is considered one of the best casinos in the world and is among the top ten according to the opinion of Forbes magazine.
  • Spielbank Berlin and Casino Berlin – are two gambling establishments operating in Berlin. The access to the institutions is permitted to the persons who conform to the gambling age in Germany – over 18 years. The visitors can play poker, blackjack, baccarat, bingo, slot machines.
  • Casino Bremen – the institution occupies the oldest building in the city, it is awarded with the title of historical monument. In the halls of the casino, the players are offered: 4 poker tables, 5 tables of American roulette, 2 tables for blackjack, over 130 slot machines.
  • Casino Dresden – a gambling establishment in Dresden, providing an opportunity to play on the slot machines. In the area of 400 square meters are located the slots of leading manufacturers, including Novomatic, IGT, Atronic and others.
  • Hohensyburg in Dortmund – Germany's largest casino, brings the greatest amount to the state budget. Every year over a million of people visit a gambling establishment. On three floors of the casino are installed over 300 slot machines, as well as classic casino games: roulette, baccarat, blackjack, poker.

German online gambling

There is not a uniform system of laws regulating the supply of the digital version of gambling entertainment in the Germany territory. The national market does not allow actively developing its own gaming operators and is not able to organize the activities of foreign providers. This situation raises a number of comments from the EU because it does not correspond to the essential requirements in the organization of gambling in the EU member countries.

Lack of adequate regulation of the work of online casinos has led to the voluntary elimination of digital poker rooms and gaming platforms from the German market. So, in 2015, five online gambling in Germany card clubs stopped their work in Germany, after one of the players in blackjack was a subject to legal actions. This is not the first case of self-removal of platforms from the German segment.

Among the most popular European sites operating using Playtech software, the German arena left:


Access to these sites remains open for customers from Germany, but the German players are not able to replenish the deposit and to play for real money.

Nevertheless, the German consumers are interested in an adequate and regulated operation of virtual gambling. The gambling network users in Germany, especially professional poker players, often appear in the list of most successful online gamblers. So, Niklas Hayniker (nickname “ragen70”) during 2013 in the online poker tournaments won more than USD 6 million.

It is obvious that the absence of rules that define the work rules of online institutions hinders the development of a virtual sphere of the gambling industry. The players themselves choose foreign servers, platforms and can become the object of attention of state authorities. The state does not implement a fairly profitable direction, able to boost the coffers of Germany. The current legislation does not comply with EU requirements, because the issue of the control of the network of gambling casinos in Germany and business is still relevant and will be considered in the near future.

What threatens Germany because of the lack of timely adoption of the bills

If Germany does not regulate the online casinos in the country, part of the European sports activities in the area of gambling will suffer losses. Thus, the European series of the Poker WOSP and the PokerStars will lose some players who are qualified online. The German players will lose access to the competition, since the effect of foreign sites is illegal in the country.

At the moment, as the provision of gambling services online and the use of the provided services are punishable by law. The organizers of the illegal online casinos and betting acceptance points on the Internet may get prison sentences of up to five years. The users of them may be imprisonment up to 6 months or pay administrative penalties in the amount of the payment for 180 working days.

If the situation with the online gambling isn’t settled in the near future, the EU may implement sanction for non-compliance that is common to the member countries of the Union. Germany will continue to lose part of the profit that could replenish the state budget by controlling the operation of gambling establishments online.

The fight against the gambling addiction in Germany

According to the statistics, in 2014 in Germany, were recorded more than 200 thousand cases in which the citizens asked for help in the fight against the gambling addiction. The gambling addiction – is a problem, which all countries, where gambling is legalized face, including gambling in Frankfurt, Germany. In Germany also are taken measures that prevent the development of gambling addiction and eliminating the consequences of this dependence.

In the land-based casinos of the Germany County operates an unwritten rule: if a pit boss drew attention to the excessive enthusiasm of the customer, he can ask him to stop playing. If, after warning the player doesn't stop, continues losing money in the casino, the customer's name is entered in the blacklist. It automatically prohibits to visit the casino and play in the institution.

The lack of progress in the development of online gambling is partially justified by the fight against the gambling addiction. The authorities believe that online gambling entertainment market is more difficult to control, not only in terms of financial issues but also on the issue of the frequency of the player's visits to the sites. Among the clients of institutions are people suffering from gambling addiction. Without quality monitoring is difficult to identify this disease in time and provide the necessary assistance to such customers.

Prospects of development of the gambling business in Germany

The gambling industry in Germany is legalized and is actively developing, mostly in the land-based casinos. The card games which are in high demand: poker, baccarat, and blackjack. The online gambling is still a disputed territory. To date, in the network is only allowed betting on horse racing. In this regard, the EU authorities, governing the provision of gambling services online expressed dissatisfaction. Unprepared German market in terms of legislation does not provide an environment in which foreign suppliers could provide services on the territory of the state. The players, who enjoy the content of the foreign resources, are at risk of being punished with imprisonment or administrative fines.

Today in Germany there are several foreign online casinos licensed in the state of Schleswig-Holstein in the period from 2012 to 2013 when the county law on the issuance of licenses to foreign companies was in force. After the abolition of the law, new licenses were not issued; however, the online institutions that managed to get permission operate till this day. You can find even more on gambling in Germany Wikipedia.

There is a controversial situation in the field of online betting. The EU Member States have submitted to the Supreme Court a petition for prohibition for Germany to impose fines on the operators of online betting. The monopoly on the German betting market is contrary to the laws applied to all EU countries.

The German laws governing the gambling business online, in the form in which they are now considered to be not consistent and needs some work. In the absence of legal acts, the shadow business develops and is observed an outflow of the German consumers abroad. Such processes are not profitable for both Germany and the European Union countries: The German players are not able to participate in the qualifying rounds of online poker tournaments and other gambling competitions as visiting foreign platforms are illegal and involve administrative or criminal penalties.

Perhaps in the near future a list of acts regulating the work of online institutions will expand. Accurate information about the future laws relating to the gambling business isn’t available. Taking into consideration benefits of online sphere of gambling, we should expect better conditions for Foreign Service providers and operators in the national market. Otherwise, it may result in litigation in the Supreme Court of the EU, as the current legislation does not comply with the requirements relating to the gambling market.

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