Despite Germany having rather restrictive ‘online’ gambling laws, it remains perfectly legal to indulge in gambling activities at numerous fully licensed land-based venues. There’s horse racing, sports betting shops in most major cities & towns and also independent lottery providers in individual states. German citizens can also play bingo at a growing number of land-based casinos. While online gambling in Germany since 2017 has officially been regarded as prohibited, apart from in one state: Schleswig-Holstein (the northernmost of the 16 German states), players can still enjoy gambling at foreign-owned gambling sites that operate from outside of German borders.
Gambling History in Germany
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries gambling was broadly regulated by numerous individual state authorities and after two devastating world wars, the German gaming industry was left to struggle. It wasn’t until 2000 when things quickly began to improve at which time the gambling industry witnessed a rapid period of growth that had never been seen before. To this day, the state continues to maintain a firm grip on all gambling activities in the country, but foreign interest and presence in the German online gambling market remains stronger than ever.
The German gambling regulations that had been in place since 2008 were replaced by the new German Interstate Treaty on Gambling (ISTG) in 2012, which the state of Schleswig-Holstein initially didn’t join. And, although this new legislation permitted the provision of licensed online sports betting services to local bettors, it still restricted the number of foreign operators that could enter the market. Even today, online casino gambling is still regarded as being illegal, apart from in Schleswig-Holstein.
Germany Gambling & Online Gambling Laws
The topic of online gambling in Germany has been a controversial one, especially in recent times and while the other constitutive German states still refuse to offer licenses to provide online gambling services in the German market, there’s a more liberal view towards online sports betting activities. Schleswig-Holstein passed its own gambling law (known as the Gambling Act) under which 23 online casino licences and 25 sports betting licences were issued.
This basically permitted operators to apply for licenses so that they could offer real cash gambling services (including games of chance, casino games, poker and sports betting), but this law was quickly abolished in 2013 after being in place for approximately 12 months. However, the licenses that were handed out to more than 40 operators remained valid for six years and expired in 2018.
Since February 2013, all German states have adopted the ISTG, but operators that are currently licensed in Schleswig-Holstein are still subject to two opposing legal regimes (although for a limited time only). The operators that are licensed in Schleswig-Holstein have fairly liberal regulations imposed on them compared to operators that are regulated under the ISTG who are subject to much tighter controls. The only good news for foreign operators, even ones that operator from within EU borders, is that they cannot be prosecuted by German authorities for offering their services towards German citizens. The players themselves are also not breaking any laws by gambling at gambling sites that operate from outside of Germany.
Online Casino Benefits to Players from Germany
There are many benefits for playing at online casinos if you’re based in Germany because for a start, in 2019, German players have access to some of the most secure online casinos in the world. Granted, these gambling websites tend NOT to be controlled by German operators and they do not operate from within German borders, but many of these websites that German players can now enjoy gambling at on a daily basis are licensed & regulated in major jurisdictions such as in the UK, Malta, Gibraltar and various other jurisdictions.
Today’s best German online casinos and other similar gambling sites support the German language, they tend to accept numerous reliable German online payment methods and Euros are almost always accepted. These fully licensed German gambling sites generally provide local toll-free German telephone support (also available in the German language), as well as live chat and email support.
The games at these casinos have been developed and supplied by some of the most advanced online casino software providers in the world and the German casino bonuses are some of the biggest and best in the business. German players also won’t have to pay any taxes on their winnings and won’t have to worry about the law knocking on their door by gambling in the real money mode at these websites.
FAQ Useful to Players from Germany
Can I gamble for real money at online casinos?
Yes. But today’s best German online casinos and other similar gambling sites are controlled by foreign owners that operate from outside of German jurisdiction.
Are today’s German online casinos safe?
Yes. The most secure German online casinos today are licensed by major licensing authorities, they are owned by trustworthy operators with proven track records and they are protected by 256-bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption technology.
What kind of player support do German online casinos have?
German online casinos today usually provide several different support methods including email and live chat support, as well as a local toll-free German landline telephone support number that you can call. All of these support methods are usually available 24-hours per day.
Can I play in euros and how do I deposit & withdraw at a German online casino?
Euros are generally always accepted at today’s German online casinos, and you can normally deposit & withdraw using one of several popular German online payment options (e.g. most major credit & debit cards, e-wallets, prepaid cards and other reliable methods).
Are the games any good at German online casinos and am I breaking the law by playing on them in the real money mode?
The games are provided by some of the most advanced online casino software providers in the world, and you are NOT breaking any laws by playing on these games in the real money mode.
Online Gambling Highlights in Germany
- No laws are stopping you from playing in the real money mode at hundreds of perfectly secure, fully licensed online casinos
- German players now have access to some of the world’s best online gambling sites
- Euros are accepted at these casinos, and most major German online payment methods are also now accepted at these sites
- Enjoy playing on hundreds of games from some of the best online casino software providers in the world (e.g. Microgaming, Playtech, NetEnt etc.)
- Guaranteed welcome bonus / sign up bonus upon registering a new account and then lots of other daily, weekly and monthly ongoing promotions & bonuses to look forward to
- German players have access to reliable, professionally trained player support via several different mediums (live chat, telephone and email etc.)
- You can play to win some of the biggest online jackpots in the world at these casinos, and you can enjoy playing on the games either on desktop (Flash and download platforms) or on mobile (using any modern smartphone or tablet device)
Problem Gambling Help in Germany
There are lots of support networks and trusted, non-profit organizations in Germany that are designed to deal with problem gambling and one of the most notable institutions is Anonyme Spieler GA (Gamblers Anonymous Germany). Their main website can be found at www.anonyme-spieler.org, and they can be reached via toll-free telephone on 01805 10 40 11. This is a community of men and women who share the experience of strength and hope to solve their common problem and help other addicted players to recover. You can easily find a group near you and if you’re looking for help as a friend or relative for someone that you’re concerned about you can go to the GamAnon website here at www.naranon.de.