Why is gambling illegal in some countries?

Gambling in Germany is facing a turning point. After years of negotiations, the federal states have agreed on a legal reform that will for the first time largely allow games of chance on the Internet. Online poker and digital roulette games, as well as virtual slot machines, would be legal for the first time. There should be permanent permits for sports betting providers who have so far been operating in a legal gray area and sometimes illegally. The state lottery monopoly remains in place. The heads of government of the countries are to adopt the new gambling regulation at their next conference on March 5th.

Germany is the largest gaming market in Europe. According to data from the federal states, lottery companies, sports betting and casino providers have a turnover of 13.9 billion euros in this country. The black market is huge: a fifth of this amount is accounted for by previously illegal offers. It is estimated that providers of illegal online casinos earn around two billion euros a year. The largest share still has slot machines in restaurants and amusement arcades with a market share of a good 42 percent, followed by the 16 lottery companies of the federal states with around 33 percent. Illegal offers have grown the fastest for years.

With the amendment to the law, the federal states are reacting to the pressure created by the booming black market. The federal states, which are largely responsible for gaming law, have not succeeded in enforcing the previously applicable bans. Black market providers from abroad were able to act without fear of consequences. Proponents of market opening complain that the state has lost tax revenue for years as a result. Critics fear that the regulation that is now being sought will increase the risk of addiction, especially for younger people.

For classic casino games such as roulette, special rules apply again

According to the new State Treaty on Gambling, a nationwide competent authority is to be created that will in future be responsible for regulating online services. According to the draft, players are not allowed to deposit more than 1000 euros per month across all offers. The cash flows are to be monitored centrally. A nationwide lock file is supposed to cut off game addicts from all game offers. Providers must also have an "automated system" for the early detection of gamblers at risk of gambling addiction.

The previous principle of separation no longer applies: in future it should be allowed to offer sports betting and slot machine games on the same online platform, and also to broker lotteries. According to the law, this must be distinguished from casino games such as roulette and blackjack. Only state-licensed companies such as casinos should receive permits for these, whereby the federal states can largely decide on the details of the rules themselves. Advertising for the then legal online offers should be allowed in principle.

So far, Schleswig-Holstein was the only federal state to grant temporary permits for online providers. These expired at the beginning of 2019; the state government in Kiel had extended it. The local state chancellor Dirk Schrödter spoke on Wednesday of a good result. The countries had "proven their ability to act". The State Chancellery in North Rhine-Westphalia, which was in charge of the negotiations, did not want to comment on the planned reform at this point in time. Industry associations have been invited to Düsseldorf for a hearing on February 19. Fundamental changes are no longer expected in negotiating circles. After the decision at the beginning of March, the state parliaments have to ratify the law, then the EU Commission still has to approve the rules. The law is to come into force on July 1, 2021 - then the previous state treaty will expire.