German-facing sportsbooks hail new licenses while affiliates fret


Germany-facing sports betting operators are hailing their shiny new licenses while their affiliate marketing partners are confused and nervous.

Last Friday saw the region council of Darmstadt in the German state of Hesse issue its ‘white list’ of the first nationwide sports betting permits just days ahead of the October 15 implementation of the country’s new online gambling ‘toleration’ regime. The 15 licensees are said to account for around 75% of Germany’s betting market volume last year.

GVC Holdings claimed four licenses for its Bwin, Gamebookers, Ladbrokes and Sportingbet brands. Also making the grade was Bet365, BetVictor, Gauselmann Group’s Cashpoint Malta, Greenvest Betting’s site, Berlin-based IBC Sportsbetting’s WettArena brand, Jaxx, Novomatic’s Admiral Sportwetten (which shut its German retail betting shops in May), Playtech’s HPYBET brand, TipBet, Tipico and TipWin.

The licenses were only issued due to the recent withdrawal of a court challenge filed by Austrian bookmaker Vierklee, which threw Germany’s licensing plans into disarray in April by challenging the transparency of the licensing process. (No doubt Vierklee’s license will be among the next batch issued by the grateful Darmstadt regulators.)

While corks are popping in operators’ offices, the mood is far less celebratory among these companies’ affiliate partners, which have been fretting ever since Germany’s new federal gambling treaty prohibited betting licensees from using ‘affiliate links’ or paying marketing partners a percentage of betting revenue generated by customers those affiliates send the operators.

On Tuesday, some GVC affiliates reported receiving emails instructing them to ensure they remove “all banners and promotional text relating to casino and poker products from all GVC brands from your German website(s).”

Affiliates were also told to stop any casino/poker-related “social media, app or network activity” for GVC brands targeting German players, and to “pause any media buying” that targets German casino/poker players.

GVC noted that the toleration policy will permit the company’s German-licensed betting brands to continue offering slots and poker after October 15, provided they impose the restrictions stipulated in the new treaty and halt all marketing of gaming products.

Last Friday, some Bet365 affiliates received similar notices regarding the “ban on game advertising” taking effect on the 15th. But Bet365 also warned that affiliates “will need to make sure not to promote gaming offers from other competitors when promoting bet365.”

Affiliates have reported receiving similarly vague notices from numerous other German-facing sites, including some, like 888 Holdings and LeoVegas, which have yet to join the licensing party.

Bet3000, which formerly partnered with new German licensee IBC, told its affiliates it was ‘suspending’ its casino products until it could “set up an offer for Slots on that is 100% compliant with the new regulation.” Bet3000 also said that, after Oct. 15, “Casino will have to be renamed to Automatenspiele or Slots for German customers.”

Germany’s toleration policy includes strict limits on slots play, including a maximum €1 stake per spin, a minimum five-second spin duration, and preventing customers from opening multiple browser windows to pull more than one slot at the same time. Operators have been given until December 15 to implement those casino changes.