German Gaming Machine Organisations Demand Online Casino Regulation

Germany’s leading manufacturer and operator associations of gaming machines have voiced their assistance for the third revised State Gambling Treaty, but have called for future legislation to go further by legalising internet slots.

The Automatenverband Niedersachen eV (AVN), the Verband der Automatenkaufleute Berlin und Ostdeutschland (AV), the Fachverband Spielhallen (FSH) and the Bundesverband Automatenunternehmer (BA) said they welcomed the State Treaty because it would “break the deadlock” and lastly see internet sports banking licenses granted.

The quartet added, however, that this was “only the first step towards re-regulating the market.” State Minister-Presidents agreed to enforce the Treaty for a brief period of time, until 30 June 2021, to ultimately award sports betting licenses. Efforts to restrict the market to 20 licensees have been defeated by legal difficulties until the rules were modified in March this year to remove the license cap.

The fresh legislative structure must guarantee that players are channelled away from illegal products, to prevent job losses and tax revenue for offshore suppliers, and to guarantee a high level of security for youth and players, the organisations said.

“Therefore, the associations are in favour of applying the regulatory approach adopted for sports betting to commercial slots,” the associations said. They argued that lawmakers could ensure that players were attracted to legal offers and away from unlicensed sites by applying a qualitative approach to online casino licenses.

“The State Treaty on Gaming points in the right direction,” Heinz Basse, chairman of the AVN, said. “But lawmakers must be careful not to repeat old mistakes. Effective regulation must be based on the quality of the companies [in the market], as high quality companies ensure effective player and youth protection.”

Thomas Breitkopft, chairman of BA, and chair of AV, added that the future was qualitative rather than quantitative laws.

“Only a reasonable legal framework can ensure efficiency and consumer protection,” he said.

The European Commission criticised the treaty in August, warning that it provided operators little incentive to secure licenses, although lawmakers have asserted that this will not prompt any legislative modifications.

Analysts suggested that the restrictive framework in which sports betting is the only product permitted, but with no in-play wagering permitted, and a monthly expenditure limit of €1,000 enforced on players, might see the German income of licensees being cut.