Gambling Laws in Germany

Gambling Laws in Germany image

Germany consists of 16 states which form the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). The federal constitution vests most of the sovereign power to the individual states. Since the Germany States retain most of the sovereign power, most gambling laws and regulations are found at the state level. The Federal Government still regulates gambling but has very limited power and only comes in when the gambling laws concern the whole German Republic.


Types of Legal and Illegal Gambling in Germany

Most of the land-based gambling types are legal in Germany. The operations of the gambling companies are subject to the various laws in the country. For any gambling company to qualify for licensing it must pass the eligibility criteria. The applicant should have no criminal record, has never been declared bankrupt, should provide financial stability, and the expertise to carry out such gambling operations.


Types of Legal land-based Gambling in Germany

  1. Poker
  2. Sports Betting
  3. Horse race betting
  4. Casino games
  5. Machine gaming
  6. Terminal-based gaming


Stance on Offline Gambling in Germany

Most offline gambling operations are legal in Germany. The issuance of licenses and enforcement of compliance is too large extent left to the state authorities. The interstate treaty has the necessary regulations which set the offline gambling requirements and operations.


There are two main gambling licenses which can be issued for entities who would like to undertake land-based gambling. The first license is the permit to operate offline casinos. The other one is the license to run offline sports betting and associated betting shops.


Stance on Online Gambling in Germany

The Interstate Treaty has no specific provisions on the licensing of online casinos. Instead, it has imposed a total ban on online casinos. The only state who used to issue out these licenses was Schleswig-Holstein but this was repealed in 2013.


The treaty has, however, legislation for the issuance of online sports betting and associated promotion activities. Under the treaty laws and regulations, only a maximum of 20 licenses can be issued in the whole of Germany. This arbitrary limitation of the betting license holders to a maximum of 20 has placed these regulations under constant tussle with legal experts and other lobbying groups arguing that it is unlawful to limit licensing. As a result, several deliberations are undergoing to reform this licensing regime and open the online betting market further.


Stance on Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin Gambling in Germany

Despite the fluctuating tendencies of cryptocurrencies and the dilemma by many national financial regulators whether cryptocurrency should be adopted as legal tender, digital currencies are gradually taking root in most countries. Germany has taken the bond step and made it legal in the country. The ministry of finance has set out the necessary frameworks to see to it that cryptocurrency transactions are monitored and controlled.


Since Germany does not allow online casinos and related gambling activities, it is safe to conclude that cryptocurrency gambling is prohibited in Germany. This is in line with the total ban of all online casino operations captured in the Interstate Treaty Laws.


Regulatory Authorities and Important Laws

 To create uniformity in Germany some competent state agencies have been assigned the role of tackling specific gambling roles within the German Republic. These include:

  1. Hessian Ministry of Interior Affairs and Sports: This is charged with the responsibility of issuing gambling licenses.
  2. North Rhine Westphalia Authorities: These authorities grant advertising licenses to companies which would like to run gambling promotions.
  3. Lower Saxony Authorities: They are charged with the task of blocking online payment for those who engage in illegal online gambling games.
  4. Ministry of Interior Affairs of Schleswig-Holstein: This authority issues licenses to companies which would wish to offer online gaming services.


The Laws and Regulations which control gambling activities in Germany include:

  1. The Interstate Treaty: This treaty sets out the objectives of gambling across the states and regulates gambling operations at the national level. This treaty also has provisions allowing state monopoly over the operation of lotteries, issuing of sports betting, and prohibition of online casino operations.

  2. Gaming Acts of Individual states: As required by the Federal Constitution, each state should have a Gaming Act which stipulates how gaming operations should be carried out at the state level.

  3. The Federal Gaming Ordinance: These regulations are set at the national level and have the framework and the guidelines for the formation of state-level gambling laws and regulations.
  4. The German Criminal Code: This code prohibits all unlicensed gambling operations and related promotion activities.



In Germany, the primary responsibility for the development of regulations and enforcement of gambling laws and requirements majorly fall under the states. To create a more uniform gambling regulation regime within the states, an Interstate Treaty was drafted and adopted alongside other competency agencies. These agencies and authorities have helped develop the current liberal offline gambling activities in Germany but have done little to legalize online gambling activities.


There has been notable progress to change the gambling landscape in Germany and with time, Germany is set up to open more gambling opportunities for its citizens and offer a bigger market for the international gambling companies keen to profit from the Germany market.

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