The German state of Sachsen-Anhalt has omitted any online casino from its ‘whitelist’ of licensed operators under the Fourth State Treaty on Gambling in a move that has baffled and bewildered many in the country’s gambling industry.
The state treaty (GlüNeuRStv) came into force on July 1, 2021, and permitted online casino games, although there were special provisions for online table games, which can only be run by lotteries and land-based casinos.
This means that residents of the eastern Bundesländer cannot play slots or even poker online. The 21-page pdf document currently has three blank pages where the lists of operators approved for Online-Casinospiele (table games) Virtuelle Automatenspiele (slots) and Online-Poker should be.
Bwin, Bet365 ad Tipwin on the list
The whitelist, which is published in accordance with Section 9 (8) of the GlüStV 2021, does contain 35 licence holders, but they are for sports betting. Some of the names on this list include Bwin, Bet365 and Tipwin, all names that will be familiar to seasoned online sports bettors.
In another move that might shock many observers, live dealer streaming was banned outright.
There were also some other interesting omissions. There was no information about which operators had actually applied for licences. A blacklist of those operators who are not allowed to apply for licences was also not present.
Other stipulations were also put in place that are intended to protect gamblers from falling into harmful patterns of behaviour. One of these is that no operator will be allowed to take over €1000 a month from a player across a brand.
Another stipulation is that no slots will be offered in demo or free play mode online. Auto play functions must also be disabled, and responsible gambling tools must be available and visible. These tools include hourly ‘reality checks’ for players that include a five-minute cooling off period.
Interestingly, a panic button that the player can tap to immediately self-exclude from an online casino must be in full and plain view at all times. It must also always be fully functional. There is a €1 per spin cap in place for all games and a 5.3% tax on turnover.
What might this mean for virtual sports betting?
Many bettors will be intrigued as to what all this might mean for virtual sports betting, a sector that has been growing in popularity in recent years. The outcomes of virtual sports contests are determined by Random Number Generators (RNG), so they could be classed as casino games.
Others might believe that virtual sports should come under the heading of sports betting, so it will be interesting to see how operators react to this news when it comes to their virtual sports betting offers.
The announcement that there are currently no white list operators does not mean that there won’t be any in the future, however. Operators will surely be paying close attention to how events transpire in Germany in the coming months.
Germany’s sports betting association, the Deutsche Sportwettenverband (DSWV), has already been critical of the new legislation, stating that new tax would “jeopardise the success of the new gambling regulation in Germany.”