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Germany’s Online Gambling Industry

The Interstate Treaty of Gambling (ISTG) was initiated in 2012 and replaced Germany’s existing legislation from 2008. Originally expected in January of 2012 it was continually pushed back due to criticism from the European Union. The Treaty retrained sports betting while games of chance were put under the control of government state and online casino games were generally prohibited, as they were in 2008.

The northern state of Schleswig Holstein was the only part of Germany that refused to join ISTG and instead opted for a more liberal law in relation to gambling activities. Instead, the state allows for operators to apply for licenses on a case by case basis, this includes licensing for sports betting and casino games both in land based and online environments. Following the new laws, more than 50 licenses were obtained by the start of 2013.

Schleswig Holstein’s independent gambling law was abolished within the year, and the fact that they held their own laws separate from ISTG was the topic of great debate among the many German citizens. Due to the terms of the licenses that were granted at the time, any companies who obtained their license under Schleswig Holstein’s law won’t lose their licenses until 2018. In the meantime they remain valid and are able to carry on as usual. Following 2018, the Interstate Treaty of Gambling will be in force throughout the entire country and is set to get a lot sterner.

The future of the ISTG is currently uncertain, it was initially designed to last until at least 2021 before coming up for review again, but many experts doubt it will last even that long. Schleswig Holstein’s gaming license was initially based on the Danish online gambling model and to solve the issue of the number of operators looking for a license.
The European Court of Justice have said that the Schleswig Holstein license is not consistent with EU regulation and also ruled that it was not acceptable for one country to have two separate licensing regimes.