The government of Germany defines gambling as a game where the player is required to pay a wager, in order to obtain a chance of winning. Whether the player wins or not, it has to be an outcome entirely based on chance. The legal age for gambling in Germany is 18. Offering unauthorised gambling is a serious offence and may lead to a fine or imprisonment.
Land-based gambling is allowed in Germany, in the form of amusement halls, casinos, betting shops and lotteries. These are either run by the state, individuals or private companies. The main criteria to qualify for licencing is economic capability, and reliability of the operator, in addition to committing to responsible gaming practices. There are clear guidelines on where gambling operations can be located, to minimise access by minors.
Gambling in Germany is regulated both at the federal and state levels. Obligations of land-based gambling operators include the protection of youth and other vulnerable persons. There must be barring systems in place at the amusement halls, lottery and sports betting locations. In terms of taxes, different types are applied based on the category of gaming services offered by the operator. They also vary from state to state.
Hosting a remote site to facilitate online gambling is still not legal in Germany. However, according to this source, it’s enough that the online casino has a license from an EU state like Gibraltar or Malta. Statistics indicate that online gambling is growing in popularity in Germany, with new casinos being launched every year. The ongoing legal debate has always been around the right of gaming operators to offer their trade to German citizens.
As such, the only licence options and exemptions available are for sports betting and lotteries. The criteria for such authorisation also varies from state to state, based on the kind of gambling activity. Gaming operators in Germany are allowed to offer services to players outside Germany if the other country allows. But offering remote gambling services to Germans without a valid gaming licence is technically illegal.
According to this article, the government of Germany require all operators to seek an additional licence if they are to advertise their services either on television or on the internet. The licence can only be issued to the operator and not the broadcaster. The use of telecommunications like email, SMS, WhatsApp or telephone calls to either run a promotion or advertising is strictly forbidden in Germany.
However, other channels of mass communication like flyers, magazines, posters and newspapers have no restrictions when it comes to advertising gambling services. The only exceptions are illegal games and any gambling campaign that may be targeting minors. Running ads for sports betting is not allowed on TV just before or during the sporting events if the intended communication includes bets on the sporting event.
Presently, there are no plans to develop Las Vegas-style casinos in Germany. The major hurdle still, is the difficulty of getting the licence itself, not to mention the stringent requirements of maintaining the licences. Although 16 states seem to favour the amendment of the German gambling regulations, marshalling a majority to adopt the introduction of online casino licences seems to be a tall order in the foreseeable future.