New German regulatory body expected to approve more than 50 gaming licenses

The newly created German regulator Gemeinsamen Glücksspielbehörde der Länder (GGL) has conditionally approved more than 50 gaming licenses for slots and online poker. However, so far, only 25 providers have been added to the official list of licensed operators in Germany, due to outstanding security deposits.

After 18 months of prep and development work, as of January 1, 2023, the GGL has taken over all gaming regulatory tasks previously carried out by states in Germany.

This includes issuing new gambling licenses, as well as investigating and combating illegal gambling cases in the country, which were already a responsibility. The regulator has also approved nearly 600 of the 3,500 individual gaming permit applications for online slot games and poker.

But Ronald Benter, CEO of GGL, said that some of the games submitted for review did not meet the standard. “We have to conclude that not all presented gaming licenses are allowed. Often it fails due to the simplest requirements, for example, if there are only English instructions for the game. In Germany, we expect better coordination between vendors and studios.”

“Let’s revoke licenses”

The GGL, in setting its 2023 targets, said it would continue to focus on combating illegal gambling. In terms of punishments that the authority can carry out, revocation of licenses is an option that the GGL is not afraid to use.

“We will revoke licenses if we find serious violations,” added Benter. “Our goal is a level playing field for all providers. We want to make sure that the business model of offering illegal internet gambling is not worth it in the long term.”

Collaboration with enforcement departments is also something the regulator is planning, according to GGL board member Benjamin Schwanke. “We will also proceed consistently when it comes to execution. All providers that are not on the whitelist will be chosen, no matter how big it is,” said Schwanke.

The GGL plans to create a special public prosecutor’s office in Halle to handle enforcement of illegal gambling providers. Since assuming responsibility for combating illegal gambling, nearly 150 cases of illegal gambling and nearly as many cases of illegal advertising have been filed with the GGL.

About 1150 illegal gambling sites have been checked by the regulator. Other goals for Gaming Authority in 2023 include creating greater transparency for players about the player protection measures observed by providers, as well as the prevention of addiction.

Long road to a new regulatory regime in Germany

In July 2021, the country launched the State Gaming Treaty (GlüNeuRStv), which established the GGL and allowed operators to apply for online slots licenses across the country. Before that, only sports betting was allowed outside Schleswig-Holstein.

The treaty was accompanied by a law which established a 5.3% tax on online slots and poker betting and set a limit of €1 per spin for online slots. The tax proved to be highly controversial, especially with the operators’ association, der Deutsche Sportwettenverband (DSWV).

Since July 2021, the GGL has taken on more responsibilities from the federal states that previously held oversight of the gaming industry. In December 2022, members of the Gambling College, the decision-making body of the German states, handed over files to the GGL. This symbolic move delegated the task of regulating the game to the new authority.