Even though there are many casinos spread throughout Germany, it is not currently legal for any of these companies, or for any other within the country to offer gambling services online. Both online casinos and sports bookmakers were effectively banned under the Interstate Treaty on Gambling (ITG), which came into effect on 1st January 2008. The only exception to this was betting on horse racing – a sport which is legally regulated by state-backed operators. Under the aforementioned treaty, the German government was given the power to ask internet service providers to block access to all such sites, and there are even laws in place to sanction German banks from processing transactions with gambling companies.
This has been thoroughly challenged by many firms and people, including the European Gaming and Betting Association, who believe that the treaty in place goes against EU rules relating to the industry. The European Court of Justice agreed with such, and ruled that the government of the country would have to open up what it considers as a state monopoly. As far as the German government’s response, an update was added to the initial treaty in 2012, allowing the provisions for a maximum of 20 national licences for sports betting to be awarded, with bookmakers paying a 5% tax on every wager placed. Unfortunately, the deadline for government decisions on the more-than-100 submissions for these 20 licences has been pushed back on a continual basis. As of yet, none have been granted.
However, one of the law’s grey areas has since offered online gambling into the German market legally. In January of 2012, Schlesweig-Holstein, the northernmost state of the country, decided to create its own laws around gambling. This has seen 50 licences provided to online sports bookmakers, casinos and poker rooms, some of which contain a selection of games from Netent. These liberal rules brought high praise from the EU and, of course, online gamers as well.