From a legal standpoint, doing business in the European Union (EU) is supposedly a straightforward affair. All member states in the EU had to join based on their agreement with a variety of different clauses. Relating to trade, EU
members are supposed to uphold the freedom of movement of trade. However, many EU states do not, as is evident in the German online market.
As of Sunday 1 February, five prominent Playtech casino sites closed their real money gambling services to German residents. Among the sites no longer open for business are Casino.com, Mansion Casino, Club777, Slots Heaven, and LesACasino. But while those sites will not accept real money bets anymore, they will permit German players to sign up and play with fun credit. This will help the sites to maintain visibility in the event that Germany casino legislation changes.
Germany is easily one of the more complex online gambling markets in the EU. In contrast to most other countries, Germany does not typically determine its laws on a national level. The way the system actually works is to give legislative control to the 16 federal states that make up Germany, making the political landscape rather similar to the state makeup of America.
Background on German Gambling Legislation
The history of online gambling is not overly positive in Germany, as 16 federal states chose to make nearly all forms of online gambling illegal in 2008, with the only exception being horseracing. Moving forward to 2010, the European Court of Justice felt compelled to intervene as Germany’s legislation was found to be acting against the freedom of movement of trade.
After consultation with the European Court of Justice, all 16 German states decided to legalise online sports betting, adding to the current offering of horseracing. Out of all 16 states, though, there was one that went further. Schleswig-Holstein chose to legalise online casinos and went on to grant 50 licenses to operators.
The next intervention of the European Court of Justice came in June 2014, when it was determined that the provision of online sports betting was enough for Germany to fulfil its obligation to the EU’s freedom of movement of trade. Furthermore, the European Court of Justice stated that Schleswig-Holstein’s legalisation of online casinos had no bearing on the rest of Germany’s decision to not legalise the activity.
Individual Prosecuted for Online Blackjack
Germany appears ready to deal with any online gambling infractions, based on a court case from January 2015. After being tried in a Munich court, it was decided that a 25-year-old would have to pay back winnings of approximately £47,000. Police had seized the winnings from a shoebox after performing a raid on the person’s home.
Also revealed was that the 25-year-old had withdrawn approximately £148,000 in winnings from playing online blackjack in 2011. The court also required him to pay £1,500 on top of the £47,000 in winnings that he had to repay. The case was a milestone in Germany because it was the first time that a single person had been prosecuted for online gambling at casino sites.