Sports betting regulation

German operators relieved by legal certainty

3 minutes read
German sports betting operators have largely reacted with relief after the Regional Council of Darmstadt finally issued the country’s first federal sports betting licences.

Yesterday it was announced that 15 licences had been awarded, with the Hesse-based Council moving swiftly after a court threw out an April judgement that forced a halt to the licensing process.

This saw GVC Holdings secure four online-only licences, for its bwin, Gamebookers, Ladbrokes and Sportingbet brands. Other online-only licensees are BetVictor – which will also run sites branded for tabloid newspaper Bild – Greenvest Betting’s Neo.bet, Bet365 and Jaxx.

This left seven operators that were awarded online and land-based licences, among them local giants Gauselmann Group, for its Cashpoint Malta subsidiary, and Novomatic’s Admiral Sportwetten. 

Admiral Sportwetten managing director Jürgen Irsigler said the new licences confirmed the high quality of the subsidiary’s product, and the competence of its team.

“This is the first time that the regulator has created a legally secure basis for private sports betting providers,” Irsigler said. “It is an important step that allows us to continue expanding our offer, especially in the online and mobile channels.”

However, it remains to be seen whether the licence will see Admiral reverse plans to close its German betting shops. Announced in May, this was blamed by management on the “failure” of the regulatory process.

Playtech will compete across both channels in the market, via its HYPBET brand, alongside Tipbet operator Tipin, and Tipico. 

Tipico chief executive Joachim Baca said the licence meant the business now had a “clear set of rules” to follow.

IBC Sportsbetting, meanwhile, said it would use its licence to pursue expansion across online and retail, under its Wettarena brand. 

“For us, the years of hard work and waiting for the concession have finally paid off,” IBC Sportsbetting owner and managing director Gökhan Balkaya said. “We are pleased to be represented on the German market as an independent betting provider and look forward to a successful entrepreneurial future. 

“We would also like to thank our former partner Bet3000 for the successful cooperation and wish them all the best.”

The operator will look to open betting shops in every major German city, either operated directly or through a franchising model. It is already in the process of constructing new outlets in Nordrhein-Westfalen, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Niedersachsen and Sachsen.

Among these venues will be a 1,600 square metre flagship venue in Bochum, making it one of the largest betting shops in the country, with all properties to feature state-of-the-art technology such as betting terminals and video walls.

Tipwin, meanwhile, yesterday (12 October) said it hoped the end to the regulatory impasse would set the stage for a successful roll-out of the expanded regulatory framework, the Glücksspielneuregulierungstaatsvertrag (GlüNeuRStV) from 2021.

This will open the market for the first time once the legislation comes into force from 1 July, though a transition period begins from 15 October. Under this temporary regime, operators that comply with the regulations set out in the GlüNeuRStV will be permitted to operate without the threat of prosecution. 

This requires operators and providers to turn off all table games, and implement a €1 per spin slot stake cap, as well as apply spending limits to all accounts. 

Microgaming has now announced that it will be fully compliant by the 15 October deadline – one that has previously been criticised as unfeasibly short by bodies such as the Deutscher Sportwettenverband – announcing plans to make 150 games available to partners.