German regulator hopes to clear licence application backlog by end of 2023

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Germany’s gambling regulator GGL expects to process all outstanding licence applications by the end of 2023 but has pointed to challenges with individual game reviews as many are failing to meet regulatory requirements.

Ronald Benter, who jointly leads the new regulatory authority with Benjamin Schwanke, today (10 January) provided an update on Germany’s progress in developing a regulated gambling market.

The GGL assumed full responsibility for supervising Germany’s gambling market on 1 January 2023.

In the field of virtual slot machines and online poker, almost all of the 78 applications received have been processed.

However, only 25 providers for these two types of gambling are listed on the official whitelist, as many of the positively processed applicants have yet to pay a security deposit, Benter revealed.

Non-compliant games

One area where work still needs to be done is in the authorisation of individual games.

The German regulations require operators to submit each game they want to offer to the GGL for review.

Thus far, the GGL has reviewed and made decisions on only around 600 of the 3,500 individual games submitted for review.

Benter stated that a significant reason for delays is that the none of the submitted games meet the requirements as set out in Germany’s Interstate Treaty.

According to Benter, games often fail on the “simplest requirements”, for example, if only English-language game instructions are available.

He encouraged providers to submit compliant games in order to accelerate the process.

In the field of sports betting and horse race betting, most applications have also been processed, although there are still individual bet types that need to be reviewed by the regulator.

Benter commented: “Our goal for 2023 in this area is to complete all permit procedures, including game and betting reviews, and thus create an attractive legal gambling market.”

Fighting illegal gambling

Moreover, the GGL said that since taking over responsibility for combating illegal gambling on 1 July 2022, it has reviewed about 1,150 websites, opened about 150 cases of illegal gambling and almost as many cases for advertising illegal gambling.

Numerous illegal offers and advertising for them have been removed following contact from the GGL.

The GGL has already started more than 60 prohibition procedures and filed more than 30 criminal complaints.

A large part of these were initiated by the state administrative office Saxony Anhalt, which was previously responsible, and followed up on by the GGL.

In addition, six IP blocking requests have been initiated. However, the affected websites have not yet been blocked as the administrative act of the GGL is still being reviewed by the courts.

However, in December 2022, two administrative courts have already considered the network blocking measure to be admissible in preliminary proceedings.

“This is a first milestone on the way to judicial confirmation of network blocking”, said Schwanke.

“However, it is quite clear that it will still be a very long way,” he added, highlighting that companies can appeal the decision.

Review planned for 2025

Looking to the future, the GGL said it is committed to creating an attractive legal market for the sports betting and online gaming industry.

The GGL has grown to 75 employees and expects to reach 104 employees by the end of the year. However, there are still positions to be filled, and this still might not be sufficient to supervise the sector, the GGL said.

In the next few years, GGL’s key priority is evaluating the success of the Interstate Treaty, with an evaluation planned for 2025.

The association is also lobbying for a special prosecution office in Halle, but it cannot actively decide upon this as the set-up of it falls under the remit of the federal justice ministries.

About the author

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Sonja Lindenberg

Sonja Lindenberg is an experienced editor and journalist, with a strong focus on business, finance, trade and investment. She holds a degree in business journalism and throughout the past two decades has covered companies and industries in various markets and for different media, including newspapers, news agencies, inflight magazines, country reports and trade publications. Sonja joined iGaming NEXT in June 2022.

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