The state parliament of the German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia will open Germany’s most populated state to licensed online gambling with the issuance of five casino licenses. The action was made possible by the Fourth Interstate Gambling Treaty (GlüNeuRStv).
The country’s Bundestag (Federal Assembly) granted the state of Saxony Anhalt the right in 2020 to host a new federal supervisory unit needed to coordinate and maintain the launch of the Gambling Treaty regime. The Gemeinsamen Glücksspielbehörde der Länder (GGL) – “The Joint Gambling Authority for the German Federal States” is expected to begin exercising its authority by the first of January 2023.
Schleswig-Holstein to the north is the only other German federal state other than North Rhine-Westphalia to announce a regulated open market so far. The GlüNeuRStv framework applies to all 16 Bundesländer.
Five Licenses for North Rhine-Westphalia
The North Rhine-Westphalia parliament, known as the Landtag published a new page to its website marking the official decision to grant licenses to online casino operators. The pages also line out a variety of information encompassing the tax responsibilities of operators, a list of requirements to obtain a license, and a detailed framework of the application process. The forms and intensity of operator supervision are outlined as well as minimum thresholds for player protections.
So far, poker games and slot licenses have not been approved in the Nordrhein region, only baccarat (punto banco), roulette, and blackjack can be regulated at this point.
When slots are approved, they are expected to be heavily regulated and restricted compared to how most non-German operators deliver them now. However, the rules are also expected to be in line with the operators who are vying for the licenses once the tenders begin. Those sites currently adhere to the following criteria:
Players cannot deposit more than €1,000 per month, per brand.
Autoplay features must be disabled on all games.
Reality checks must be enforced every 60 minutes, with a 5-minute cool-off period before play resumes.
Immediate self-exclusion “panic button” must be displayed at all times.
Free to play, demo, fun games are not permitted
Those casinos operating under transition tolerance guidelines can only offer slots.
Steering Players to Protected German Sites
Regulators noted that they are offering licenses for classic casino games earlier than expected in order to try to channel residents away from unlicensed sites with no specific German player protections.
It’s unclear, however, if they intend to continue the toleration regime for compliant operators or if those sites will need to acquiesce to the five licensed sites in order to incentivize the businesses and for the government to capture as much revenue as possible from operators. As long as the government and operators don’t see slots competing directly with the licensed table games, both types of sites should be able to coexist at least until the online slot license tenders.
Source: SBC News, North Rhine-Westphalia Opens To Online Gambling Under Federal Regime, February 22, 2022