Online gaming was legalised across Germany in July last year via the State Treaty on Gambling (GlüNeuRStv) that was approved by German lawmakers.
The treaty allowed state governments to choose how they regulated online table games, be it through creating a monopoly or issuing a number of licences equivalent to the number of land-based casinos in the state.
Nordrhein-Westfalen has opted for the latter approach, meaning five licences may be issued.
The law clarifies that this comes in response to demand from the public, in an attempt to direct players to regulated channels rather than black market operators.
The legislation says that licences will only be granted if the operator does not endanger public safety or impair public interests. The operator must also have an office registered in an EU member state, and conduct its operation in accordance with the State Treaty.
After its second reading, the bill was passed with support from the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) and the Free Democratic Party (FDP).
The Alternative for Germany (AfD) proposed amendments to the bill, such as a ban on companies offering bonuses and discounts, a blanket advertising ban and the implementation of a cooling-off period, meaning those that offered online gambling before regulation could not receive licences for two years. The proposed amendment was rejected.
Part of the bill explained its reasoning, saying: “A permitted range of online casino games is to be created. The population’s demand for such a range of games is to be channeled into a permitted market in order to attract players who would otherwise continue to play with black market providers.
“These providers from abroad would play against the risk of fraud and manipulation as well as against particularly addictive game designs and advertising measures through regulatory requirements. Channeling players into the legal market can also deprive the black market of its financial basis.”
The state of Schleswig-Holstein recently passed similar legislation allowing for the operation of online casino games in the region.