Germany’s Gaming Regulator Approves Massive Number of Operator Licenses

If the latest information on the website of Germany’s new gaming regulator is correct, the online gaming market is about to explode. It took over a year for authorities to approve 12 licenses for online slots. But it now seems like a list of 50 is about to find approval.

Museum Island in Berlin, Germany, at night
Museum Island in Berlin, Germany, at night. The country is suddenly making huge progress with approvals for online slots and poker. (Image: Dreamstime)

After Germany created its new online gaming regulations, which unified operations across the country’s states, it was slow to greenlight operators. Even as it did, it only allowed slots, although other options are beginning to arrive.

The Joint Gaming Authority (GGL, for its German acronym), the new gaming regulator, is now beginning to take control, and the results seem promising. Poker is arriving by way of Entain, and it and online slots are finding more success.

A Steady Flow Of Interest

The State Administration Office (SAO) in Halle has been responsible for issuing licenses and regulating the industry since July 1, 2021. As of the beginning of this month, the GGL took over, and is rapidly making changes.

Media outlet Stern points out that for virtual slots and poker, the GGL approved almost all of the 78 applications it received. However, only 25 providers for these two types of gambling are listed on the official whitelist. This is because, according to GGL CEO Ronald Benter, the security payments are still outstanding for a number of applicants who have received approval.

Not only do operators need approval, but so do the games. By the end of 2022, the regulator had reviewed and approved almost 600 of the almost 3,500 individual game requests it received. It rejected many for not meeting qualifications, such as required language support.

In the area of ​​sports and horse betting, the GGL has already approved most of the applications received. However, it still has to check individual bets. Benter said in an interview this week that the GGL’s goal for this year is to complete all licensing procedures, including gaming and betting testing, and thus create an attractive legal gaming market.

Some 25 new online gaming operators are being added to the GGL’s whitelist, its database of approved platforms. There are another 25 waiting. Their appearance on the whitelist depends on the operators’ ability to pay the requisite fees and finish complying with the approval process.

Illegal Gaming Still A Problem

Since last summer, there has been a significant uptick in the prosecution of illegal gambling allegations. Prosecutors have received almost 150 cases of illegal gambling, as well as a similar amount of illegal gambling advertising, according to Benter.

The GGL contacted the offenders once it discovered the illegal activity. It has already launched more than 60 prohibition orders and filed more than 30 criminal charges. Some of these began when the SAO in Halle was still in charge. The GGL then picked up the cases and is completing the investigations.

In addition to the classic enforcement instruments, the GGL is also using payment-blocking and network-blocking instruments for the first time. At the insistence of the regulator, the majority of payment service providers are withdrawing their relationships with illegal gambling providers. As a result, it’s becoming more difficult for Germans to use illegal gambling platforms.

The first positive developments can also be seen with the new instrument of network blocking contained in the Fourth State Treaty on Gaming. The GGL reports that it already began six proceedings against the largest Internet Service Providers on the basis of the new legal framework.

Some affected websites are still operational because Germany’s court system has to review the GGL’s files. Last month, two administrative courts agreed that blocking the websites is legal, which will allow the regulator to move forward with its actions.

Therefore, the affected providers must now block access to the illegal offers. However, the GGL realizes that it’s an uphill battle and acknowledges that it still has “a long way to go.”