Germany may not be the most renowned country in the world for permitting online gambling activities, but that doesn’t mean that betting on the internet is impossible. The ever-changing rules and regulations surrounding online gambling can make things rather difficult for players who aren’t quite sure what is legal and what isn’t, though. Moreover, players may struggle to identify a top place to play their favourite games. Fortunately, we’ve covered all those bases right here on this page. If you want to discover the truth behind Germany’s gambling laws, find out where and how you can bet online and discover a top place to play, you’ve come to the right place.
An Overview of Gambling in Germany
Germany is a country comprising federal states. Ordinarily, this means that for most of the laws in the land, each state has its own rules and regulations. This certainly used to be the case when it came to online gambling. Things have changed of late, though, and what was once a straightforward process has become a lot more complicated.
First and foremost, gambling in Germany in most of its forms is considered a legal activity. However, this usually refers to land-based betting. Online gambling presents a much trickier subject to understand. Sports betting is legal in Germany, as are online lotteries. However, online casino gaming is typically banned across the country. Moreover, there is no governing process to ensure that such domains are regulated. There are, for instance, no national German licensing bodies.
In the past, Germany has permitted each individual state to sort out its own gambling laws, even in relation to internet betting. This is something that Schleswig-Holstein took full advantage of, dishing out gambling licenses to any operators who were interested in them. It is worth noting that during this time, only players residing in Schleswig-Holstein were eligible to bet at those casinos and sports betting sites.
Amendments to the Interstate Treaty on Gambling in 2019 came into force in 2020. This essentially states that bingo sites are considered lotteries and are, therefore, legal. Only twenty betting licenses could be issued to German sportsbooks, but because of EU law, foreign online bookies can still cater to German players. Tighter restrictions mean that sports bettors can only wager up to €1,000 per month, and sportsbook operators must yield 5% of the revenue earned from German players to the state. Poker and casino sites are completely banned, save for in Schleswig-Holstein.
However, there could be a change in the wind. Glücksspielneuregulierungstaatsvertragl or GlüNeuRStv is a brand-new regulatory body which has been approved by the country’s parliament. If passed by each individual state, it would legalise online casino gaming under strict terms and conditions across all states. Strict conditions could include maximum stakes of €1 per spin on slots, for instance. If approved, the new regulations would also cover poker games and could come into effect on July 1. Whether this goes through, remains to be seen.
About German Offshore Casinos
Even if the bill doesn’t pass, there are still plenty of ways for German players to get involved in the action. Many offshore operators keenly advertise their services to players in Germany. Moreover, those operators are not punished by the German authorities too severely, and Germans, themselves, are not penalised for playing at such offshore casinos. This naturally means that many citizens in the country flock to foreign sites to play.
The German authorities will sometimes on a state-by-state basis attempt to blacklist these foreign casino sites. They can, although don’t always, instruct ISPs (internet service providers) to block access to such domains. Where this has occurred, Germans have found that a simple VPN (virtual private network) is often more than enough to get around such blocks.
A typical German casino will not currently offer casino games or poker titles to players. They will tend to dish out sports bets, bingo and lottery games. An offshore casino, though, will generally add a plethora of live dealer and online casino games into the mix, giving Germans a far greater selection of games to play. As mentioned, this could be about to change if the sixteen German states ratify the creation of the new regulatory body (GlüNeuRStv).
Germany’s Most Played Casino Games
Germans love their sports betting games, which is why they tend to be legalised in the European country. However, if you think that Germans have a disdain for online poker, roulette, blackjack or baccarat games, you’re mistaken. Even slots will tweak the interests of your average German, and some will go to great lengths (such as signing up at offshore casinos) to enjoy them.
There are even companies in Germany which produce online casino games. Merkur Gaming is amongst the most recognisable of these, alongside Bally-Wulff. They don’t just provide casino games to those sites licensed out of Schleswig-Holstein. They also cater to internationally renowned operators based far and wide.
What do Germans like to play? Below is a brief list of the most popular games you can find at foreign casinos catering to German players…
Slots: Slots are popular everywhere across the globe, and Germany is no exception. Expect to find 3-reel classic slots, 5-reel video slots, progressive jackpot titles, MegaWays games and much more besides at your favourite German online casinos.
Baccarat: Baccarat is arguably less popular than other card games in Germany. The population likes to gamble but isn’t renowned for wagering large sums. Baccarat is often seen as a high-rollers game, and this may put a lot of Germans off from playing it.
Blackjack: Blackjack is a simple game which is often inexpensive to play, and many Germans enjoy a hand or two at the blackjack table. In offshore casinos which cater to players from Germany, you can expect to find RNG (random number generator) and live dealer blackjack games, with each site typically housed several variants.
Table Poker: Table poker games span many different titles. Simplistic stud, hold’em and draw tend to be the most popular, with Germans also likely to engage in tournaments and competitions. Oddities such as Caribbean, Tequila and Cyberstud poker don’t tend to be as popular.
Live Dealer Casino Games: Live dealer casino games are starting to come into their own in Germany. Big-name software providers have begun to explore the possibility of dishing out live dealer titles in German, and there are some roulette games where this is already possible.
Video Poker: Video poker is seldom amongst the most popular games at any online casinos. However, it can still be played all the same at most major German online casino sites, with many variants often available.
Lottery, Keno and Bingo: Games such as bingo, keno and lottery games are considered legal in the country. These can be played at any licensed gambling site without question. It is not clear where online scratch cards fall. However, since they can be snapped up with ease in the most land-based venues across the country, the same is probably true for these. Don’t be surprised to see German authorities declaring online scratch cards as lottery games, too.
Roulette: As mentioned, some live dealer roulette games can now be played in German, so there is a market out there for these roulette games. However, RNG (random number generator) roulette games also appear in great number and can be found at all decent German online casino sites. European roulette tends to be the most popular variant.
As mentioned, while all these games tend to be popular with German punters, sports betting is by far the most popular pastime when it comes to German gambling habits. If the gambling laws in Germany change in 2020 to legalise internet betting, don’t be surprised to see the popularity of some of these games rise rather rapidly.
Taxes on Big Wins at German Casinos
The taxes involved in the German casino sector don’t really yield too much revenue for the state. Instead, taxes on brick-and-mortar establishments are far more commonplace. The actual tax rules are the same for both types of operations, though. Typically, VAT laws and gross gambling revenue of 19% are applied to casino games. However, this drops to 5% for sports betting companies and rises to a whopping 20% for lottery-based games. There is no current data to see what Germany would change it to if gambling was legalised across the board.
There doesn’t appear to be any tax laws in place for players who pocket winnings at casinos, either online or offline. However, Germany does have considerably clear tax laws in other areas. For instance, if you were to transfer your winnings from your casino account to your bank account, and gained interest on those winnings, you would be liable for tax.
The Best German Online Casinos to Join Today
So, you want to bet at a German online casino. Where do you begin? Our advice would be to check out any of the top German betting sites listed right here on this page. However, if you don’t want to take our word for it, there are several ways you can go about checking out top online sportsbooks and casino sites for yourself.
Once you have found a site which seems to fit the bill, all you need to do is check it against the requirements we’ve got here on this page. If the casino or betting site holds up well against these tests, it may well be worth getting involved in. If it fails, you should probably avoid it.
So, what are the top things to look out for in a German online casino and internet betting domain? Well, they include:
German-Friendly Bonuses: You should always check the terms and conditions of any bonus you may be considering claiming. Many have terms and conditions, and some of these can be quite precise. As well as ensuring that your welcome bonus or other promotion doesn’t saddle you with extensive wagering requirements, you should make sure that the offer can be claimed by players residing in Germany, as some offers are region-specific.
German Language Gameplay: A good number of Germans can understand English. You can, too, or you wouldn’t be on this page. However, just because English is the lingua franca of the internet casino world, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim to play in your mother tongue. One of the hallmarks of the best German casinos is that they can offer gameplay and support in German.
The Euro Currency: As with languages, Germans are going to want to make sure that they feel at home when playing. One way of going about this is to ensure that your chosen site uses the euro currency. Most of the best domains will do.
German Payment Methods: Having the euro as an accepted currency doesn’t help much if you are going to struggle to find a payment method to use. Top German online casinos will offer the usual suspects (VISA, MasterCard, e-wallets and so on), but they will also serve up top German options, such as Sofort, too.
Your Favourite Games: As we detailed earlier, there are many games that Germans may wish to look at when betting online. Not all of these games are going to be available at every online casino. However, the best German betting sites will serve up a good mixture of them, and ideally from several providers to boot.
Reliable Support Options: Obtaining help and assistance is essential, and it helps if you can obtain that support in German. Germany’s best and leading online casinos will provide live chat, e-mail and toll-free telephone assistance, as well as an FAQ (frequently asked questions) guide in German, even if they are an offshore or foreign casino site.
Mobile Gameplay: In 2020, almost all major online casinos can offer mobile-friendly gameplay to their users, and that includes German betting and casino sites. Some do this via an Android or iOS (Apple) app, which can be downloaded and installed. Some apps are compatible with both. However, many top sites ditch dedicated apps altogether and opt for a mobile-friendly interface from the start. This allows you to spin on the go via your phone or tablet’s web browser, without the need for apps.
Now that you know a bit about what you can find in German online casinos, you’ll be better placed to play online. Of course, it is worth keeping tabs on the ever-changing German gambling laws. However, for the time being, you are well within your rights to play at any offshore German casinos, you see fit. We’d still opt to play at one recommended on this page, though, as they are certified as fair, trusted, safe and secure German internet casinos.