Germany’s new gambling regulator, the Gemeinsame Glücksspielbehörde der Länder (GGL), is set to assume its full responsibilities in overseeing the country’s gambling market as of 1 January 2023.

The authority began its work on 1 July, but it was initially only tasked with fighting illegal gambling and advertising via IP and payment blocking.

Yesterday (13 December), the gambling decision-making body of the federal states (gaming college), which has thus far decided on licence applications, met for the last time and symbolically handed over the files to the GGL.

Ronald Benter, who jointly leads the new regulatory authority with Benjamin Schwanke, said an important milestone of Germany’s Fourth Interstate had been reached.

“The bundling of competencies in the GGL raises the regulation of the online gaming market to a new level,” said Benter.

“We’re ready to go,” added Schwanke. “We have set up the appropriate structures and processes to effectively regulate the online gaming market from January 1, 2023.

“In doing so, we can build on the experience of the gaming college and the expertise in the states, for which we are very grateful.”

GGL co-CEO Benjamin Schwanke: “We have set up the appropriate structures and processes to effectively regulate the online gaming market from January 1, 2023.”

From 1 January 2023, the GGL, which is based in Halle in Saxony-Anhalt, will take over responsibility from various German states.

Saxony-Anhalt will transfer its powers to regulate online poker and virtual slot machines to the GGL, while Rhineland-Palatinate will pass on its responsibility for social lotteries, Hamburg for class lotteries, and Lower Saxony for commercial games brokerage.

While the GGL said it will hire additional personnel at the start of 2023, around 20 employees will be transferred to the GGL from the state administration office in Saxony Anhalt, which had been responsible for the licensing and supervisory procedures for virtual slot machines and online poker.

Klaus Zimmermann, state secretary in the Ministry of the Interior and Sport of the state of Saxony-Anhalt, commented: “The last phase of setting up the joint gaming authority of the states has now been completed. We have created the conditions in Saxony-Anhalt to enable the GGL to get off to a successful start.

“Thanks to highly motivated employees, it was possible to regulate this market in a short time and under great pressure,” he added.

Germany’s gambling regulation has received its fair share of criticism from the industry, with operators repeatedly commenting on the country’s slow licensing progress.

Germany’s new gaming regulator, the Gemeinsame Glücksspielbehörde der Länder (GGL), has defended the country’s licensing progress and pledged to communicate with the industry as it begins work today (1 July).

The authority will initially focus only on fighting illegal gambling and advertising via IP and payment blocking before becoming fully operational on 1 January 2023.

The iGaming industry has repeatedly criticised the conditions imposed by Germany’s Fourth Interstate Treaty of Gambling, describing the law as overly restrictive when it comes to deposit limits and product offerings, as well as advertising and affiliate marketing.

In recent weeks, operators also pointed out that there had been little progress on the issuing of licensing.

In response to questions sent by iGamingNEXT, the GGL said it had been engaged in intensive talks with stakeholders and associations throughout the past year to better understand their positions, and it wants to continue to engage in dialogue with the industry.

For the next six months, the authority will work hand-in-hand with various federal states and their respective gambling supervisory authorities. However, the GGL has already recruited 50% of the 110-employee strong workforce that it aims to have in place by 2023.

Some staff members are initially employed by the state administration office of Saxony-Anhalt, which is currently responsible for the licensing of online poker and virtual slot machines. These experts are expected to be transferred to the GGL by January 2023 at the latest, the GGL said.

To date, three providers of virtual slot games have made it onto the so-called white-list of the state administration office in Saxony-Anhalt. Gauselmann’s subsidiary Mernov was approved in May and was joined by Tipwin and Mybet in June 2022.

The state administration office revealed yesterday (30 June) that nine more licences have been approved, although the operators have not been named.

In total, operators submitted 71 licences since the introduction of the Fourth Interstate Treaty on 1 July 2021. Eight applications were withdrawn, three are still under discussion and one has been rejected, while the remaining applications are still under review.

The GGL said it expects all pending applications to be processed by the end of this year.

The GGL highlighted – in consultation with the responsible state administration office – that permits are processed and granted as quickly as possible if the application documents are complete.

Some operators, however, submitted incomplete applications, the GGL said.

Operators are also obliged to join the LUGAS gaming supervision system, which aims to ensure that websites abide by deposit limits and prevents players from using multiple websites to circumvent the limits.

Under Germany’s gambling law, a player must set an initial monthly deposit limit of €1,000 when first registering with a website.

According to the GGL, many operators are still to connect their systems to LUGAS, which has delayed the granting of permits.

The gambling industry had raised concerns over data protection when LUGAS was first introduced.

In further comments on the licensing process, the GGL explained that once applications are complete, they have to be presented to the gaming board along with a recommendation either to approve or reject an application.

The gaming board’s decisions require a two-thirds majority vote, which cannot always be achieved in a single session, the GGL said.

In addition, the GGL stated it is not concerned that operators will withdraw from Germany following Kindred Group’s decision to exit the market.

In response to a question from iGaming NEXT, the authority said the current applications show that major players on the market are willing to implement, and have no problems in complying with, the strict requirements of the Interstate Treaty.

The GGL, however, also said it recognised the need for attractive framework conditions in order to successfully regulate the gaming market.

According to the GGL, this aspect will play a key role in the next evaluation of the Interstate Treaty on Gambling.