The progress of legalising online gaming across Germany has been patchy, but there was a breakthrough on 12 March 2020 when the latest GlüNeuRStV was approved by the German heads of state. It acts as a compromise between states wanting the market to be open and those wanting gambling to be more restricted.
This treaty will open up the online market to all products and verticals, specifically poker and virtual slots, with the legislation set to come into force on 1 July 2021. It will, therefore, significantly liberalise the market, subject to strict conditions concerning player protection.
Ahead of July 2021, a transition period was agreed to enable all existing operators and the German Länder to adapt to the new legal framework. This period began on 15 October 2020 and will be used to clarify existing and forthcoming mandates, including those on age verification. However, it’s important to note the industry must comply with the new laws as of 15 October (with a few exceptions deferred to 15 December).
Age verification has been a hot topic in Germany since an investigation by the Bavarian Consumer Centre highlighted the ease at which under-18s could access five major online gambling sites. To get a license in Germany under the new regime, online gambling operators will need to demonstrate a robust age verification solution.
The risks of failure to demonstrate a system of age and identity verification, are significant. It will likely result in a licence application being rejected. For current operators in the German market, it could lead to the revocation of their license and fines of up to €500,000.