Germany’s new online casino ‘toleration’ policies will bite deep into UK gambling operator GVC Holdings’ earnings next year, as German sports betting operators warn the government to seek ‘achievable’ goals.
On Thursday, GVC warned investors that Germany’s ‘transitional tolerance policy’ for online gambling operators wasn’t likely to have a material impact on its 2020 earnings. However, next year’s earnings will likely be around €70m below the company’s previous expectations.
Germany’s 16 states announced last month that German-facing online gambling operators wouldn’t face legal punishment for offering online casino products, provided they implemented the rules of the new federal gambling treaty now, rather than wait for the scheduled July 1, 2021 date by which the treaty will take effect.
This toleration policy was always a bit murky, but GVC helpfully spelled out its understanding of its obligations going forward. As of October 15, online casino table games must be switched off until individual states issue the necessary licenses. There are also limits on the types of in-play sports betting markets operators can offer.
Poker and slots products must be in the German language and these products will face customer deposit limits of €1k per month – although there may be an opportunity to raise this cap once the licenses are actually issued if a player can demonstrate sufficient financial wherewithal – in addition to marketing restrictions.
Other slots restrictions include limits on ‘parallel play’ – such as having two browser windows open to slots products at the same time – while auto-spin slots are also verboten. Starting December 15, slots stakes will be limited to €1 per spin and there must be a minimum five-second interval before a new spin can commence.
GERMAN OPERATORS DOTH PROTEST
In what appears to be a coordinated move, the German Sports Betting Association (DSWV) – of which GVC’s popular Bwin brand is a member – issued a statement on Thursday praising the toleration policy while criticizing its “unrealistically tight implementation deadline.”
The DSWV notes that the traditional summer recess of some state legislatures means that operators have only just received confirmation of the October 15 deadline for implementation. The DSWV further complained that the government has failed to designate a point person to whom operators could direct queries regarding unclear aspects of the rules.
The DSWV views this as extremely risky, given that some states have threatened stiff penalties – including being barred from receiving a new German license – should operators stray outside the boundaries. DSWV boss Mathias Dahms called the two-week timeline “an impossibility,” suggesting “several months” was a more realistic timeframe for implementation.