As Germany grapples with the establishment of new rules and regulations for the country’s gambling industry, online gaming is still not received with open arms. Germany’s online sports gambling licensing authority, the Darmstadt Regional Council (DRC), representing the state of Hesse, has sent out word to its licensees that they must shut down any online gambling or poker offering they currently have in place as soon as possible. If they don’t, they face losing their license completely.
The statement was issued as a result of several calls for the licensing process to be delayed, which comes as Germany is preparing to implement the third amended State Treaty on gambling. Interim rules are expected to be put into place beginning January 1, 2020, staying in force until June 30, 2021, and the regulator wants operators to know that any delays or uncertainty in the gambling space doesn’t give them permission to operate online casinos.
The regulator added, “Once the third amended State Treaty enters into force, sports betting providers that continue to operate in the German market without obtaining permission to do so can expect to be sanctioned.” The DRC is diligently working with the regional prosecutor, media regulators and the Federal Financial Intelligence Unit to ensure operators play by its rules and determine if any entity is in violation. It warns that “if a license application is not submitted to the Darmstadt Regional Council, we will immediately prohibit illegal operations.”
Part of that crackdown could include the loss of an operating license, or worse. The Ministry of the Interior in Niedersachsen will reportedly be informed of any infractions and, as the regulator behind payment channels, could cut off bank accounts and money supplies.
Many gambling operators have called out the licensing process and there are threats that the regulator could face legal challenges over its policies. Once seen as a solid market, the operators are now concerned about their future, especially in light of crackdowns in other countries. GVC Holdings, which has seen significant losses in the U.K., expected Germany to bolster its position and is ready to fight any regulations that diminish its capabilities in the country. It is still planning on pushing forward with all of its activity, unless regulators determine that it has overstepped its bounds and has to be brought under control.