If you know a thing or two about casino licenses, then you’ll understand that this is a tricky jurisdiction. In fact, the number of Schleswig-Holstein licensed casinos online is limited. What’s more, gambling sites with this license bear a rocky past and an equally unstable future. All this said, the region is notorious for opening up the doors to online gambling in Germany and it’s not going down with a fight. Read on as we reveal everything there is to know about the subject.
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Online gambling used to be unregulated in Germany. Players were able to sign-up to casinos licensed in any jurisdiction including Malta. That all changed in 2008 with the Interstate Treaty on Gambling (or ISTG) being drawn up. Under this treaty, all gambling activities apart from sports betting were banned. At the time, the rule was passed in all states across the country. It only took Schleswig-Holstein a few years to realise that the jurisdiction was destined for big things in the world of online casinos.
2012 saw the state opt-out of the treaty and actual start to issue casino licenses. This was the start of everything for the region. In our next section, we’ll start to unravel the bumpy path that was in store for Schleswig-Holstein casinos online.
As mentioned previously, 2012 was a real game-changer for Schleswig-Holstein. The region introduced its own Gambling Act and granted almost 50 licenses for casinos and sportsbooks. One of the most notorious casino sites to become licensed at the time was 888. At the time all casino licenses granted would remain valid for 6 years. A year later, the act was revoked however license holders were able to continue operating until their expiration date.
Technically, things should have been set to end in 2019. Gambling in Germany generates billions of euros each year. It comes as no surprise that the state looked to regulate online gambling once again. 2018 saw an agreement being drawn up for sports betting and in 2019 a similar law was passed to extend casino licenses granted in 2012. Revalidated licences are now valid until the 30th of June 2021. All this said we wouldn’t be surprised if the region looked into issuing new licenses before then.
In case you haven’t realised by now, online gambling in Germany is a bit of a grey area. 15 states follow the laws set out by the Interstate Treaty on Gambling. Under these regulations, online gaming is banned, with the exception of sportsbooks online. Previously, the treaty also set a limit on the number of sports betting licenses granted. Following criticism by the European Union, this cap was removed completely. License holders under this act must pay 5% of their turnover in taxes.
The issue with this treaty is that in practice one of the states, Schleswig-Holstein does not abide by the rules. This jurisdiction actually has its own Gambling Act in place. Current Minister for Home Affairs in the state believes that it is safer to regulate gambling. This is because that way authorities can ensure the environment is safe and fair. Banning it completely will only lead to the growth of black-market casinos.
Initially, having two separate Gambling acts in one country caused a lot of havoc. It was believed that it went against the constitution. This was later given the green light by the EU and the country continues to operate in this manner.
The Schleswig Holstein Gambling Act was set up to be as closely in line with the IGT as possible. The aims of this were to protect both operator and player alike by promoting game fairness and anti-money laundering techniques as well as other security measures. The rules also apply to software providers. Gambling activities regulated under this act include lotteries, casinos (online and land-based) as well as betting.
At the time, two types of licenses were being granted:
Although it is no longer possible to apply for a license in this jurisdiction any longer, licensees must continue to live up to certain criteria.
As mentioned previously, applicants would have needed to fulfil the criteria above before being granted a gaming license. Having said this, the authorities at the time handled things following a case by case approach. They would also analyse the operator to ensure that they were both financially and mentally stable. The state focused heavily on responsible gaming and we are about to find out more about this in the next section.
Schleswig-Holstein has always had the players intentions at heart. This is in fact the reason that they attempted to regulate online gambling in the first place. This at least would enable some control over the sector and limit abuse in black market casinos. All casino sites under this license must abide by strict regulations when it comes to the protection of players. The first two acts in the jurisdiction’s gambling laws actually focus entirely on responsible gaming. Below is a list of some of the measures licensed casinos must have in place.
The license is aimed at protecting against criminal acts related to online gaming. To ensure that all casinos online adhere to regulations, the Ministry of Interior Affairs actually issues biannual reports regarding this matter.
Online gambling in Germany underwent a great deal of turmoil over the years. We have already looked into this in great depth. Unfortunately, this instability had negative repercussions on other companies in the industry. Previously, Novomatic was huge at Schleswig-Holstein licensed casinos online. No one can forget the great success of classic slot game ‘Book of Ra’ which built a massive hype amongst German players. Merkur was another big game provider to pull out at the time.
Luckily there are still great game providers at casinos with this license. Play’n GO for instance is now available to play online in Germany. Moreover, their slot game ‘Book of Dead’ plays on the same Ancient Egyptian theme as the old favourite.
In spite of Novomatic’s exit, live dealer games by are also an option at casinos with a Schleswig-Holstein license. What’s more, alternative providers like Evolution Gaming has one of the best live casinos out there.
Perhaps the million-dollar question that everyone is asking is what the future has in store for casinos licensed in this German jurisdiction. There has been so much unrest over the years that it is hard to predict whether these online casinos will be allowed to continue to operate. In fact, had we written this page a few years ago, we would have predicted licensed casinos reaching their end.
Technically come mid-2021, all Schleswig-Holstein licensed casinos are set to expire. We don’t foresee another extension happening due to the fact that this has been the case for a few years running now. The Minister for Home Affairs has however stated their intentions to continue to regulate online gambling. Minister Grote is hoping to reach out to the other 15 states and find a solution for the entire country. It has been hard to come to agreements in the past so negotiating terms this time round definitely won’t come easy. Given the millions of euros that this industry generates for the country each year as well as the risks of the rise of black-market gambling though, we are sure that this is not the end for online casinos licensed in Germany.
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