German players running for illegal casinos? Survey on the German Gambling Treaty

The Glücksspielneuregulierungstaatsvertrag (or, as it’s more commonly known, the GlüNeuRStV) was first settled all the way back in September, as lawmakers discussed whether to allow online casinos to exist in Germany at all. Ultimately they decided they would – but with heavy restrictions compared to, say, their UK counterparts. In October, casinos licensed by German regulatory authorities were given 3 months to implement the necessary changes – a request that most complied with. After the minister-presidents signed their approval on GlüNeuRStV in November, the federal states gave the legislation just enough votes to be ratified on March 25th, meaning that on July 1st it will officially become part of German law.

Even so, the extensive list of changes and restrictions imposed on online casino games has been in effect for months now – and their effects have been palpable. Online slots were restricted to a maximum bet of €1 per spin, with a minimum waiting period of 5 seconds between spins – on top of autoplay being permanently disabled and players being banned from playing multiple slots at the same time. The biggest change related to slots, however, is that they are no longer allowed to have jackpots, which has greatly disappointed those hoping to win certain slots’ progressive jackpots worth millions of euro.

Table games, such as blackjack, poker and roulette (including their live variants) are now considered to be “virtual bankholder games”, a different category from online slots – and as such required to be presented separately from them, similarly to how certain casinos already presented poker or bingo separately from their table games. To top it all off, a monthly deposit limit of €1000 has been set which can not be circumvented. There are some additional requirements (for example, all German-regulated casinos need to be included in an exclusion registry which blocks access to players who feel they have a gambling addiction), but it’s the monetary limits which have proven to be the most controversial.

Why Most German Players Prefer to Play at Illegal Casinos

In a poll conducted by Casino.online, 58% of German players claimed that they would prefer to play at a casino without a German license rather than at one regulated by their homeland – even aware that those casinos offer less protections. When asked about their reasoning, the majority – over 42% – claimed that it’s due to the €1/spin betting restriction. After all, in many slots increasing your wager also increases your odds of winning the jackpot, or triggering the bonus game, though with jackpots out of the way, presumably that is also a point of contention for slot aficionados. Over 23% of players cited the €1000/month limit as their reason for wanting to switch to a non-regulated casino, meaning that, in total, about 65% of all players unhappy with the new regulation cite the arbitrary limits set on their gambling experience as the reason.

Reasons players have cited for playing at foreign casinos not regulated by Germany.
Reasons players have cited for playing at foreign casinos not regulated by Germany.
In case the image above doesn’t work for you, or you’re trying to save data, here’s the exact results about why German players voted for playing at foreign casinos:
  • 42.55% No 1€ stake limitation
  • 23.40% No 1000€ deposit limit
  • 14.89% I prefer live casinos
  • 10.64% Playing on more than 1 slot simultaniously
  • 8.51% No taxes on money won

Why Some Players Chose to Stay at Regulated Casinos

Not everyone shares the sentiment that the GlüNeuRStV is bad – or at the very least, bad enough to necessitate switching to potentially unsafe casinos. Indeed, out of those who answered “no” to the question of whether they would switch, almost 70% explained that they would rather take the security of guaranteed payouts over the uncertainty of operators regulated by other bodies. While no part of GlüNeuRStV in and of itself promises that regulators will step in in case a casino refuses to pay out winnings, the casinos being at risk of losing their license should enough complaints be aimed at them would presumably serve as a good enough deterrent against scams – which obviously wouldn’t exist in casinos licensed by other, less lenient authorities, like Curacao. In addition, a good number of those who don’t mind the new regulations claim that they simply won’t be affected by them. 12% agree that they already don’t deposit more than €1000 a month, and an additional 6% claim their stakes are never bigger than €1.

Reasons players have cited against playing at foreign casinos not regulated by Germany.
Reasons players have cited against playing at foreign casinos not regulated by Germany.

Again, if you are unable to view the handy piechart above, here’s the results of why German players voted against playing at foreign casinos:

  • 69.70% I prefer regulated, guaranteed pay-outs
  • 12,12 % I never deposit more than 1000€ per month
  • 9.12% I never bet more than 1€
  • 6.06% I don’t play in live casinos anyway
  • 3.00% I don’t care about winning-taxes

So, what does the poll mean for GlüNeuRStV, and the future of German gambling in general? The most obvious conclusion is that a good amount of gamblers are not happy with the incredibly strict restrictions imposed on them. With any change, no matter how big or how small, there will be those that won’t mind it and those who feel it is a deal breaker – the compromise, of course, comes to bringing the latter group to an acceptable minimum while still keeping the change intact. And, surprisingly, despite its restrictive measures, GlüNeuRStV is almost there. If lawmakers were to simply increase the €1 slots restriction to, say, €5, it is very likely that the poll would flip and most people would prefer to play at German-regulated casinos rather than at those licensed by foreign authorities. While 40% isn’t quite the necessary percentage to enact change in, say, a referendum, it’s certainly big enough to show that there is a substantial group of people who have a very particular problem. And when that problem can be resolved with very minimal compromise on the spirit of GlüNeuRStV, there is little reason why it shouldn’t.

One thing’s for certain – German gamblers find themselves in a bittersweet moment where, starting in July, online gambling will finally be regulated by their own government and acknowledged as a taxable source of revenue, with all the legal protections that classification implies. But on the other hand, many feel like the regulations are not worth it and they would rather enjoy foreign casinos, as they have in the past. Whether a compromise can be made is a question for the future.

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Jacob Evans Written by Jacob Evans