Online Poker Will Become Legal in Germany
Online gaming in Germany has always been in a "gray" area. Formally, since 2008, the Interstate Treaty on Gambling (ITG) is ruling. According to this law, online games within the country were banned, but the prohibition didn't apply to play through offshore sites.
In 2012, the ITG was updated and allowed each of the 16 Federal States to solve the issue of legalizing online gambling. But, only one (Schleswig-Holstein) moved forward and even started issuing licenses, but the permit was revoked last year, and the licenses were valid until 2018.
Then it became clear that a comprehensive solution needed a consensus. The ITG was modified and ratified at a meeting of all the heads of Germany States in Berlin:
Starting in July 2021, online gambling, including, of course, online poker, will become legal throughout Germany.
Transitional tolerance period in Germany
From October 15, 2020, new rules apply to the German market. The Glücksspielstaatsvertrag (an Interstate Treaty) will come into effect next year (July 2021), but recently, all 16 states shared the requirements for those who want to apply for a license.
The so-called "Transitional Tolerance" requires poker sites to implement several changes to their operation to be fully compliant with the law. Hence, many sites have temporarily withdrawn from the German market, while others have made massive changes to their platforms.
Some sites have estimated a two-month period to be fully compliant with the new German law requirements, which include:
- A new monthly deposit cap of €1,000 (poker and slots);
- A table cap of four;
- All players must verify their identity and address
- A "panic button" on every table with a 24-hour self -exclusion period;
- No multi-lobbying is allowed;
- Deposits and withdrawals can be processed be possible only via bank account;
- Blind lobby (random table seating);
- The creation of a common database including win/losses;
- No casino games like Blackjack or Roulette should be offered (only slots allowed);
- P2P transfers won't be allowed;
- An office in the EU/EAA is required;
- Operators must show complete information about fees and payouts;
- The client must show an hourly pop-up message with a mandatory acknowledgment;
Global operators sites like partypoker, PokerStars, or Unibet are reacting in different ways to the new tolerance policy, but clearly, some points will make it very problematic for grinders to keep playing online. It's expected that new .DE sites start operating soon with all the restrictions implemented.
"This development is to be welcomed, as is the greater certainty and detail it provides on operating under the new licencing regime. The establishment of a level playing field for responsible, licenced operators is ultimately good for German consumers, the Group and the industry as a whole."
The monthly deposit limit is too low to play any stake beyond NL50, and MTT regs won't be allowed to play the most exciting events. This is one of the most complex requirements of the new German law.
From the operator side, a panic button may be technically complex to implement, while the creation of common databases to implement restrictions has yet to be developed. GVC Holdings estimate that the new restrictions will have an economic impact of £70m in EBITDA terms.
On the other hand, it seems that there are no particular restrictions for any poker format, and Germans would be allowed to join a global player pool instead of a closed liquidity market. The new law will make games safer for casual players, although they won't be able to mix poker with casino games for now.
Recommended poker sites for poker players from Germany
Considering the latest developments, we recommend German grinders to check the following sites:
- PartyPoker: legal site with plenty of experience operating on regulated markets;
- Unibet Poker: the best site for casual players who want to play legal poker in Germany
For those who want to try offshore poker sites, our selection is the following one:
- Americas Cardroom (Winning Poker Network): WPN is the largest US-facing network and offers a millionaire MTT grid and cash games up to NL/PLO5k;
- BetOnline (Chico Poker Network): another US-friendly site that has renewed its offer in 2020;
- Club-based apps: our deal grants safe access to the best unions around the world.
German online poker law FAQ
What does the new law mean for poker sites operating in Germany?
All poker sites who want to apply for a German license in 2021 must adapt their platform to be fully compliant with the transitional policy.
Is it legal to play online poker From Germany?
Yes, licenses will be issued to all poker rooms that comply with the law requirements.
How about offshore poker rooms?
These would become the only option for players that want to bypass the deposit limits and table caps. As on other markets, offshore sites remain open by taking their chances, and many players will join, accepting the risks.
Is there any way to raise the deposit limit?
Unfortunately, there is no way to raise the deposit limit now. You'll be able to deposit only €1k/month, which is, of course, low for a grinder. In the future, after the German Interstate Treaty comes into force, there is a slight chance that the limits will be raised.
Will German players be allowed to join a global player pool?
So far, nothing indicates that German players won't be able to join the ".COM" market; anyway, we will only know this for sure in 2021 after licenses are issued.
How are poker sites reacting to the new German law?
Operators are adapting to the new German law in different ways:
- partypoker.de is already online with all the restrictions, including the deposit limits;
- Run it Once Poker temporarily pulled out of the market;
- Winamax kicked-out all German players;
- PokerStars allows people to play at the .EU site, but German players were removed from the FRESPT market;
- 888Poker will launch a .DE site on November 2, 2020.
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