The regulatory landscape for online gambling in Germany remains uncertain. Although online gambling is subject to regulation at an individual state level, the Interstate Treaty on Gambling (ITG) was enacted to ensure unified rules throughout the 16 German states.
The ITG in its current version, effective as of July 2012, provides a general prohibition of online gambling but with the exception that permission for lottery, horse racing and sports betting can be given. The requirements for permission are listed in the ITG. All other forms of online gambling are still completely prohibited.
Before joining the ITG in 2013, the state of Schleswig-Holstein had its own Gambling Act allowing online lottery, sports and horse betting as well as online casino. It issued more than 50 licences under this Act, of which 23 were for online casino, 7 of which also included a licence for online poker, and 25 for sports betting. These licences are about to expire and are applicable only to services offered to players based in Schleswig-Holstein.
For sports betting, the ITG provides for twenty concessions (as a special form of permission) to be granted to applicants for an experimental seven-year period especially to observe positive effects on resolving black market gambling.
Due to various pending disputes and a decision of the Higher Administrative Court of Hesse of 16 October 2015, which has confirmed several defects in the sports betting licensing process as contrary to fundamental rights and EU law, no licences have been granted.
Furthermore the CJEU decided on 4 February 2016 (C-336/14- Ince) that private economic operators, who offer sports betting without the obligatory concession cannot be punished, because of the unclear legal situation.
The Federal Administrative Court in a judgement of 26 October 2017 confirmed the online casino ban and the licence requirement for sports betting. It further confirmed that the law was enforceable against sports betting operators who did not apply for a licence.
A planned reform of the ITG to become effective on 1 January 2018 has failed and different regulatory concepts are discussed among the state legislators.
Schleswig-Holstein recently announced its intention to issue interim permissions for offering sports betting services to customers in Schleswig-Holstein to EU and EEA based operators who fulfill the licensing requirements stipulated by the ITG. Earlier attempts to issue interim permissions were held to infringe EU law. Therefore it remains to be seen whether Schleswig-Holstein will enforce the law against operators not having obtained an interim permission and whether such enforcement measures will be upheld by the courts.
On 7 December 2017 the European Commission stated in a press release that it will terminate its infringement proceedings against Germany regarding the gambling sector because of a more strategic approach to enforcing EU law.
Updated 21 May 2018