The legalities of in-person and online gambling in Germany are well-known for being changeable, making it difficult for players to know where they stand. Laws are also complicated and each state has the power to determine its own stance on the different types of gambling.

Gambling regulations in germany

Which Gambling Activities Are Legal in Germany?

Similar to the US, the central government in Germany has handed the power to each of its 16 states when it comes to gambling. Leaving them to make their own laws and decisions. However, as these governments regularly come and go, the gambling laws also change.

Until recently, all forms of gambling in Germany were illegal, with no reference specifically made to online betting. The law at the time specified that it was illegal for any company within the country to offer gambling services to residents. Residents therefore headed to the plethora of foreign online gambling sites instead for their sports betting and casino action.

Betting in Land-Based and Online Casinos

There are heaps of land-based casinos for residents and visitors to indulge in. Some may say that the most popular venues are the best in Europe. Many have the look and feel of the mega-sized casinos in Las Vegas and offer a multitude of games and plenty of glitz.

The Interstate Treaty on Gambling in 2021 is the most recent piece of legislation which deals with the overall situation in Germany. This also includes online gambling. While these new regulations allow operators within the country to offer services to residents - no licences have yet been issued.

The only sites that are legally permitted to offer online casino slots and other games are those that were granted a licence by Schleswig-Holstein. This is the only state which opted out of the 2012 Interstate Treaty (which was never ratified) and began issuing its own licences. The most recent treaty does not cover live casinos or RNG-driven table games though - only online casino slots.

Poker Gambling

Poker is a really popular gambling activity in Germany, with residents able to play in private residences as long as no commercial profits are made. Poker is also readily available in the many land-based casinos dotted around the country. These games are subject to the regulatory requirements outlined in the latest Interstate Treaty 2021, which permits players to enjoy poker only at licensed sites and venues.

Since the legislation is still relatively new, there are only a limited number of online casinos in Germany where residents can access games.

Playing Bingo

Bingo is another favourite pastime in Germany and some land-based casinos offer regular games. There are also standalone halls and some games available through the national lottery too.

Gambling on bingo falls under a different area of German law which covers lottery gambling in the country. This states that residents can play as long as it is through a state-approved vendor. Online bingo gambling is therefore permitted as long as the operator meets these conditions.

National Lottery Games

There are numerous local, state and national lotteries in Germany. The law permits this as the activity is classed as a game of chance and comes under the regulatory requirements of the Interstate Treaty 2021. Playing online lottery games for real money is permitted but only via state-approved vendors. It's also possible to play basic bingo games on these sites and purchase scratch cards.

Social Gambling and Online Crypto Casinos

Social casinos which offer games for 'free-play' with chips or coins are legal in Germany as they are not classed as gambling. Playing card games at home with friends is also legal as long as rake and fees are not being charged.

Online crypto gambling sites are another matter though. Whilst virtual coins are legal to buy, sell and trade - they are not classed as legal tender in Germany. This means that they aren't accepted as a method of payment in any of the land-based casinos or gambling venues either. The same goes for any of the state-approved online casinos too.

Sportsbet laws

Is It Legal To Place Sports Bets in Germany?

This is much more accessible than other forms of gambling, with many sportsbooks offering pre-match and live betting opportunities across the country.

There are unlimited licences for sports betting operators in Germany. Though horse racing is regulated separately, with only a limited number of licences permitted. This is because licences are only granted to specific racetracks.

The law is equally permissive of online sports betting, with licence holders allowed to offer a wide range of markets to German residents.

What's the Minimum Gambling Age in Germany?

Only those aged 18 or over may legally participate in the various forms of gambling.

German Gambling Tax Regulations

The Race Betting and Lotteries Act regulates taxation on gambling. The most recent iteration of the act (2021) introduced a 5.3% tax on all slots, poker and sports betting stakes, whether at licensed or unlicensed sites. While much of this has been passed directly onto players, some sites have absorbed the costs to keep their customer base.

History of Gambling Laws in Germany

Germany hosts two of the world's oldest casinos: the Casino Wiesbaden built in 1810 and the Kurhaus built in 1824. Casino gaming has faced many ups and downs throughout German history. With all venues closed in 1872 then reopened in 1933, before closing again due to World War 2, and opening again in 1950.

At the end of the war, gambling as a whole became regulated by the West German states. Access to establishments was granted only to those with proof of residency. In 1995 these regulations were overhauled and by the end of the century, Germany recognised the value of gambling and attempted to monopolise the industry.

The first Interstate Treaty was passed in 2012 but was blocked by the European Union in favour of open competition. Schleswig-Holstein opted out of the 2012 Treaty, licensing around two dozen online casinos and sports betting sites before returning in 2013.

Germany started working on a revised Interstate Treaty in 2019. Schleswig-Holstein issued transitionary licences to their existing licensees, allowing them to continue operating until the new legislation was passed. The revised Interstate

Treaty on Gambling was passed in 2021 with the country ready to issue individual licences to sites offering slots, poker games and sports betting.

Key facts

Key Facts

For a long time the gambling industry in Germany was nonexistent due to its strict illegality, with the possibility of online gambling left in a grey area. However, thanks to the Interstate Treaty on Gambling 2021, you can now legally play slots and poker games and bet on sports at various licensed websites within Germany. Live dealer and RNG-based table games like blackjack and roulette are not yet covered, with licensed operators not permitted to offer these in the country.

Mike Lorente

Mike Lorente

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