Online gambling including poker in Germany has always been in a “gray” area. According to the Interstate Treaty on Gambling (ITG), online gambling operators were banned in the country, but this didn’t apply to offshore operators. And so, online gambling in Germany was available for many years, but technically not really allowed. This had caused many German poker players to leave the country and follow their profession elsewhere.
In January this year we first heard about discussions in the German government about revisiting the gambling laws in the country. This probably happened with some pressure from the European Union as many other EU-countries have this figured out for more than a decade. Up until now only one of the 16 German states, Schleswig-Holstein, had a regulation in place, handing out online licences.
The decision makers had put together a controversial draft earlier this year for a new law we reported about two months ago.
Hopes for reconsideration crushed
When the news broke about regulation the poker community was hopeful. The details of the new law however made professional poker players anxious.
Especially the monthly deposit limit of €1,000 would make it virtually impossible for German players to join in any high stakes action online. Big cash games or high roller tournaments like PokerStars’ High Rollers Series or partypoker’s PowerFest could be German-free.
According to the updates in March this rule will indeed be in place when the law will finally be in place in July 2021. Lawmakers did warn unlicensed gambling sites that action will be taken against them. 100 operators have already been warned, which has resulted in 10 of them leaving the German market.
All in the name of protecting citizens
The deposit limit is just one way of the German government to look after their sheep. There will also be a strict rule for advertising online gambling of any kind. No TV commercials will be allowed between 6am and 9pm every day.
In addition to that, details that still need to be defined are maximum bets, a limit of how much money players can keep on the sites and multi-tabling restrictions.
With all these decisions, German lawmakers are trying to protect recreational players from losing too much money each month. But what about pros and semi-pros?
The voices are clear from those few professional poker players that have remained in the country. If poker is your main income source the options are to quit and take up a different career or leave Germany to move to Austria or Malta for example, as many others have done before them.
Even if player-to-player transfers of high amounts will be possible, which is doubtful, German professional poker players will be unlikely to be able to play in the games they need to make a living.
During Coronavirus times not many of us can think about the ways our lives will look like in a few months, but German poker players and professional gamblers in general will have some extra thinking to do in the near future.