Germany 2021: Landers’ ‘transitional framework’ receives mixed reactions 

The approval by Germany’s 16 Lander (regional councils) to launch a ‘transitional tolerance period’ for igaming services, which will bring clarity to operators who wish to participate in the federal relaunch of the online gambling marketplace in 2021, has drawn contrasting views.  

As German Lander continue to individually ratify the final amendments of the federal New Interstate Treaty on Online Gambling, Bundesrat (federal council) premiers agreed that a ‘transitional framework’ would be launched from the 15 October.

The decision was employed in order to ensure that Lander governments would be able to pre-adopt player protections and consumer safeguards ahead of Germany deploying its new federal online gambling regime from 1 July 2021.

The implementation of a ‘transitional framework’ has been welcomed by GVC Holdings, the operating company of DACH region bookmaker bwin, which has formally stated its commitment to join Germany’s future gaming marketplace. 

GVC Group CEO Shay Segev commented: “This development is to be welcomed, as is the greater certainty and detail it provides on operating under the new licencing regime. The establishment of a level playing field for responsible, licenced operators is ultimately good for German consumers, the Group and the industry as a whole.

“It also re-enforces our position as the most globally regulated and responsible operator in our industry. We look forward to building on our market-leading offer in Germany and providing our customers with the very best gaming experiences under the new regulatory framework.”

The ‘transitional framework’ will act as a pilot scheme for existing German state-licensed operators to continue offering casino, poker and sports betting markets in accordance with the approved regulatory conditions brought forward by the Interstate Treaty.

Key conditions will require existing German operators to ensure that all ‘casino table games are switched off’ as they await Lander approval as to whether table games will be licensed.  

Furthermore, all operators must ensure that customer slots and poker deposits are limited to €1,000 per month – an approved Lander condition that the Bundesrat has asked to be reviewed ahead of 2021 proceedings.

In addition, active operators must ensure their responsible gambling duties in relation to verifying customer IDs, instructing ‘cooling-off periods’ and restricting promotion of poker and slot games are maintained.

From the 15 December, German Lander will enforce the decision that all operators must adopt a €1 maximum stake limit on online slots, alongside a ‘5-second minimum duration on slot spins’.

Reaction to the ‘transitional framework’ has been largely positive, as a mandate supported by the German Sports Betting Association (DSWV). However, the DSWV leadership has criticised policymakers for adopting an “unrealistically tight implementation deadline in which ‘operators are subject to meet numerous complicated technical requirements within a few days’.

Industry incumbents are reminded that German federal policymaking requires 13 of the 16  Lander to approve amendments to existing or established laws in order to enact changes – which the DSWV has maintained as its preferred option to implement positive changes as the Interstate Treaty on Gambling undertakes its final ratification procedures.  

DSWV President Mathias Dahms lambasted Lander governors for continuing to advance German gambling policies without industry consultation.  

He said: “In some federal states, however, the frustration over the new regulation of the gambling sector seems to be limitless. Apparently, it should be made as difficult as possible for private gaming providers to meet state requirements and obtain licenses. That is why the decision on tolerance criteria was delayed for so long. 

“An implementation period of only two weeks for complex IT projects is an impossibility. Under normal conditions, such a process takes a time frame of several months. Anyone who deals with the subject knows that.” 

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