On 1 July 2021, the new State Treaty on Gambling came into force. Online gambling, such as virtual slot machines, online casinos, and online poker will be legal in Germany. The German market will be opened up. Providers need a state permit to operate. Operation is subject to state supervision and complex legal restrictions. The permit procedure and operation require that the technology is adapted to the legal requirements.
Why choose our lawyers?
We advise and represent you on all legal issues in this regard. These include:
Checking whether gambling is present.
The term "gambling" is defined in §3 para. 1 of the State Treaty. A game of chance is deemed to exist if, within the framework of a game, a fee is charged for the acquisition of a chance to win, and the decision on the win depends entirely or predominantly on chance, e.g., lotteries or draws. However, in practice, it is often difficult to determine whether a game of chance is involved. This question is significant, e.g., in the case of Pay2Win offers of online or smartphone games. This is because a prohibited game of chance leads to many negative legal consequences and possibly criminal prosecution.
Examination of the form of gambling
We delimit for you which form of gambling you offer, e.g., lotteries, draws, betting, (virtual) slot machine games, online casino games, online poker.
Assistance in applying for a license
According to § 4 para. 1 of the new treaty, public games of chance, including those on the internet, may only be organized or brokered with the permission of the competent authority of the respective state. This is a prohibition with reservation of permission - gambling remains prohibited unless the state has permitted it.
Internet gambling is subject to particular conditions. Those applying for a permit must first prove that they will only use the license for their distribution and brokerage of
- the organization, brokerage, and self-distribution of sports betting and horserace betting, or
- the organization and distribution of online casino games, virtual slot machines, and online poker.
Moreover, the organization and brokering of public games of chance on the internet are prohibited. The state legislatures have thus not opened all forms of online gambling to the German market. Therefore, the offer must fall under one of the cases mentioned above.
We support you in obtaining such a permit. Then, together with you, we prepare the application documents and represent you before the competent authorities.
Advice for payment service providers
Payment service providers need to know that participating in payments for unauthorized gambling is also prohibited and can have serious legal consequences (such as the withdrawal of licenses or other measures by the authorities). Therefore, payment service providers must ensure that gambling providers on the internet have the appropriate official authorization. In addition, we advise payment service providers on whether supervised companies are operating prohibited gambling.
Advice on the fulfillment of legal requirements
Several legal requirements apply to the offering of gambling. These include:
- Protection of minors: no access for children to the offer through appropriate technical measures (identification and authentication, "KYC");
- Credit ban: No credits for players and no advertising on the site for third-party credits;
- No rapid repetition of the game: Technically, the game must be designed so that the game rounds do not repeat quickly. The background to this is that, in the view of the federal states, this would otherwise create particular incentives for addiction;
- Different forms of gambling may only be offered via the same internet domain if an independent and graphically separate area is set up for each form of gambling (exception: sports and horse betting);
- Social concept: The organizers of online games of chance must develop a particular social concept to ensure the protection of minors and players. The social ideas must explain which measures are to be taken to prevent the socially harmful effects of gambling and how these are to be remedied.
We advise you on how to comply with these legal requirements.
Advice on the particular licensing requirements for sports betting, online poker, and virtual slot machine games
Sports betting, online poker, and virtual slot machine games are subject to special requirements. The complex regulations can only be outlined below. These include, for example, in the licensing procedure:
- Disclosure of ownership and shareholding relationships with the applicant;
- Proof of reliability and expertise
- Disclosure of where the funds for the operation of the offer come from, including proof of their legality;
- Declaration and, if applicable, proof that the organizer, appointed persons, and associated companies have not organized or are not organizing prohibited gambling in the past;
- Evidence of financial and technical capacity to operate online gambling following legal requirements;
- Transparency requirements: Transparent operation must be ensured for the supervisory authority so that state supervision is guaranteed; this also includes, for providers not domiciled in Germany, appointing a receiving and representative agent in Germany;
- Own accounting for payment transactions from Germany, including an account in the EU and the establishment of interfaces for the examination of all gaming transactions in real-time by the supervisory authority;
- Proof of security in the form of an unlimited, directly enforceable bank guarantee of at least 5 million euros or higher if requested by the licensing authority.
We advise you on how to comply with these requirements.
Compliance with the technical and legal requirements
Online gambling operators must fulfill various technical requirements for their gambling, for example, the connection to the national limit file. We help you to meet these requirements. This also includes legal advisory fields such as data protection, IT, or IP law with our internationally renowned experts.
Advice and representation in administrative court proceedings
Disputes with authorities can also arise in gambling law. We advise and represent you in such disputes.
- Representation in legal proceedings, including drafting of complaints or statements of defense
- Representation in summary proceedings and appeal proceedings before administrative courts
- Representation in appeal and review proceedings
- Preparation of constitutional complaints and applications for review of norms
- Attendance at court hearings
Our advice is not limited to the above-mentioned main topics. Gambling law is a rapidly changing area of law. We help you to find clarity in complex, confusing matter.
Our lawyers have been advising on administrative and licensing law for years. Our partner Dennis Hillemann is a specialist lawyer for administrative law and has experience in complex administrative proceedings. Our lawyer Christine Charlotte Fischer advises national and international clients in administrative proceedings and before the administrative courts.