“Consumer choice determines the success of a new regulation in Germany”

The EGBA association says that overly restrictive measures may jeopardise Germany’s new gambling regulations.

Germany.- The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has outlined a number of recommendations aimed at improving the proposals for a Third State Treaty on gambling in Germany. The recommendations came ahead of a stakeholder meeting organised by the North Westphalia regional government that took place this week.

EGBA said that it welcomes progress towards developing a new online gambling regulation but warns that the draft treaty proposals are inconsistent, overly restrictive in the context of current consumer demand, and jeopardise the task of developing a fully functioning online gambling market in Germany.

“A new online gambling regulation is badly needed in Germany, but these new proposals could make the current regulatory dysfunction even worse. An attractive product offer is absolutely essential to achieving a safe and well-channelled gambling environment – but the proposed restrictions would prevent this,” Maarten Haijer, Secretary General, said.

A new online regulation is needed

“Germany has a fragmented and restrictive gambling offer compared to other EU member states and this has made it more desirable for Germans to play on offshore websites. In 2017, the Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE) calculated that Germany had a “channelling” rate of only 1.8%, compared to 95% in the UK and 90% in Denmark. A new online gambling regulation is therefore badly needed, and its priority must be effective channelling which ensures tax revenue for the German state, better consumer protection for German consumers and a working market for the online gambling companies who have a license to provide their services in Germany,” explained EGBA.

Consumer choice determines the success of a new regulation

Given the importance of channelling, consumer choice and the “shop-around” nature of online betting, “EGBA is concerned that the restrictions proposed in the new state treaty will undermine the success of the future online gambling regulation. Specifically, the cumulative effects of the current product restrictions and the comprehensively restricted access to online casino games, which has been part of the European Commission’s repeated criticism of Germany’s gambling regulations.”

The association made some recommendations to ensure the new regulation is a success. A full product range in online casinos is essential to support effective channelling; there should be no opt-out for the Länder when it comes to the regulation of casino games.

Extensive restrictions should be avoided when defining permissible bet types. Any restrictions on live betting would undermine the objective of channelling consumers as it is a very popular and sought-after product, e.g. in 2018, EGBA members derived 63% of their EU sports betting revenue from live betting.

A mandatory cross-provider deposit limit of €1k – applicable to customers across all gambling companies – will be difficult to implement on a technical level and raises concerns about data protection. A recent study found that the setting of voluntary deposit limits is effective and gamblers who set their own deposit limits would spend significantly less money, compared to players who had not.

The proposed waiting times for switching between products and operators are not justified and will undermine channelling because they ignore the “shop-around” nature of online betting behaviour and the nature of price and odds comparisons.

“EGBA welcomes the proposal to set up a central competent regulatory authority but has concerns about how long it will take to set up and how this could affect licensing decisions.”

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