Germany: amnesty for online casinos that adopt future rules

The move has been proposed to smooth the transition to legalisation in July 2021.
The move has been proposed to smooth the transition to legalisation in July 2021.

A working group has recommended unlicensed online casinos be let off the hook if they adopt rules that come into force next year.

Germany.- Online casinos serving German players could escape prosecution for operating in the currently unregulated market if they adopt rules to be imposed when Germany opens its licensed market next year.

Germany expects to go live with licensed online gambling under the new federal gambling treaty on July 1, 2021.

States have adopted radically different approaches to the activity of online casino operators in the meantime, with some states continuing to take legal action against companies operating in the unregulated market.

But now a working group of heads of state chancelleries has recommended an amnesty for internationally licensed operators offering products to German players if they introduce the limits established in the gaming treaty to come into effect next year.

It would effectively mean that online casino operators’ current activities would be tolerated if they acted as though it were already July 2021, complying with the future licensing rules.

These include tight limits on deposits and stakes, and an obligation for players to have separate accounts for different verticals. 

According to North German news outlet NDR, a working group made up of the heads of the state chancelleries of Bavaria, Berlin, Hamburg and North Rhine-Westphalia have proposed the move as a transition phase during which enforcement would be “concentrated on those providers who are expected to want to evade the prospective future regulation”.

They recommend that if a company has shown it is interested in holding a licence to operate in the regulated market from 2021 and begins to already observe the new treaty’s rules “as far as technically possible”, it should be allowed to escape legal action.

A spokesman for the Hamburg chancellery, which has been one of the most severe in pursuing operators of online casinos, appeared to be open to the measure as a compromise solution.

It said that while it would prefer online casinos to remain illegal, it recognised that the situation of uncertainty could not continue and that a compromise was needed.

However, The federal Gambling Advisory Board, which advises states on problem gambing, is opposed to any such transition period.

Deputy Chairman, Konrad Landgraf, said: “We clearly demand that previously illegal gaming providers not be tolerated and that only be able to get a licence after a period of good behaviour. At a stroke companies that offer illegal gambling from abroad would be legalised.”

The EGBA meanwhile has criticised the amount of restrictions that Germany will impose on regulated onling gambling companies, saying they will fail to make legal options attractive.

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