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Newsletter - Germany's Federal Council proposes 5.3% turnover tax on online poker and virtual slots

SPD continues to criticize GlüStV 2021

Germany's second-largest political party, the social democrat SPD, continues to oppose the proposed regulation of the country’s online gambling market through the updated State Gambling Treaty (GlüStV 2021).

While the new treaty has already been approved by thirteen of the sixteen federal states – the stated minimum number for entry into force of the treaty in the ratifying Länder – Germany's largest state, Nordrhein-Westfalen (NRW), has still not ratified.

Although the current state coalition government of CDU and FDP is in favor of the GlüStV 2021, it has only a single seat majority in the state parliament.

Recently, the NRW SPD criticized the state government for supporting the GlüStV 2021 even though the new national regulator will not be fully operational when the new treaty enters into force on July 1, 2021.

In Saarland, the SPD, which is part of the ruling state government coalition, also leads the opposition against the GlüStV 2021.

Gaming in Germany webinar | Regulatory update & policy principles

On July 1, 2021 the new German State Gambling Treaty is expected to enter into force. The treaty will legalize online gambling – including poker and virtual slots – throughout the country for the first time.

While the new State Gambling Treaty (GlüStV 2021) has been finalized and is currently under consideration by the federal state parliaments, many central aspects of the new regulation, such as tax rates and operator reliability criteria, are yet to be determined. Similarly, the responsible gaming obligations of future-licensed operators have not yet been fully clarified.

As developments are moving fast, more information on these crucial aspects of the new gambling regulatory framework is expected to be available by the end of April.

To learn more of what to expect of the regulated online German gambling market, tune in on April 21 at 15:00 CET for the Gaming in Germany webinar “Regulatory update & policy principles.”

Join us for a high-level conversation on German gambling policy choices and their expected implementation.

Confirmed speakers:

  • Prof. Dr. Tilman Becker, Managing Director of the Gambling Research Center at the University of Hohenheim

  • dr. Jörg Hofmann, Head of the Gaming & Betting Law Practice Group at Melchers Law Firm

Register today:

UK Gambling Commission launches new three-year corporate strategy

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has unveiled its new three-year corporate strategy which sets out the Commission’s focus as it continues to protect the public and players from harm.

The UKGC's new strategy will be delivered through five priority areas:

  • protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed by gambling

  • a fairer market and more informed consumers

  • keeping crime out of gambling

  • optimizing returns to good causes from the National Lottery

  • improving gambling regulation

The key differences between the current and previous three-year strategies appear to be an even greater focus on increasing protections for minors and vulnerable people and reducing gambling-related criminal activity.

Gambling Commission chair Bill Moyes said: "Our new three-year strategy maintains the ambition of our previous strategy and goes further in considering how best we can use our current resources. Additionally, the launch of the Gambling Act Review was a pivotal moment earlier this year and whilst our work continues, we are aware that we must continue to adjust and challenge ourselves depending on the outcomes of the Review.”

Netherlands Gambling Authority has begun processing remote license applications

After some initial technical difficulties, the Netherlands Gambling Authority has started taking applications for online gambling licenses. The regulated Dutch online market is scheduled to open on October 1.

Operators who submit their applications prior to April 15 will be allowed to submit the certified audit report of their game system, which should normally be part of the initial license application, up to three months later, until July 1, 2021.

As a result, most of the expected 35 first-round license applications will likely be submitted during the first two weeks of April.

Upcoming events


The following events may be of interest to the Gaming in Germany community.

  • The third edition of CasinoBeats Summit will return to Malta from 13 – 15 July, 2021, as part of Summer iGaming Week organized in partnership with KPMG and Gaming Malta.

  • iGB Live and iGB Affiliate have also been moved to 28 September – 1 October, 2021, but will still take place in Amsterdam!

  • The 2021 Gaming in Holland Conference has been scheduled for 1 October, 2021 – the very day that the regulated Dutch online market finally opens. Netherlands Gambling Authority chairman René Jansen has agreed to deliver the keynote speech. Save the date!

  • SiGMA Europe has been rescheduled to 16 – 18 November, 2021.

  • The Betting on Sports America conference and expo has been scheduled for 30 November – 2 December, 2021 and will bring together all the major players in the fast-growing North American sports betting industry.

  • The World Gaming Executive Summit is returning live on 6 – 8 December, 2021 at the W Hotel, Barcelona.

  • ICE London and iGB Affiliate London have been postponed to 1 – 3 February, 2022.

Webinars and virtual events

  • The European Association for the Study of Gambling (EASG) has announced two new webinars. On April 15 at 11:00 CET, the EASG will present a webinar on match-fixing and integrity, followed on April 22 at 11:00 CET by a webinar on Covid-19 and problem gambling.

  • On April 15, casino trainer Arjan Korstjens will host a free online sample workshop to introduce his upcoming land-based casino marketing course.

  • On April 22, several iGaming experts will discuss the new German gambling regulations in a SBC webinar titled Online gambling in an ever-changing regulatory world.

  • The upcoming Gaming in Holland webinar on April 29 on navigating risk and compliance with regard to politically exposed persons (PEPs) and sanctions may also be relevant for Germany-facing operators.

Germany's Federal Council proposes 5.3% turnover tax on online poker and virtual slot machines

The Federal Council of Germany (Bundesrat), which represents the sixteen federal states, has approved a legislative proposal to tax online poker and virtual slot machines at 5.3% of player stakes (minus other expenses):

“Online poker and virtual slot machine games will be taxed in the future similar to horseracing and sports wagers, as well as public lotteries and other draws.
As the basis of assessment, the stake minus applicable duties should be used – which include all expenses incurred by the respective player for participating in the game.
Online poker, virtual slot machines, as well as horseracing and sports betting will be taxed at 5.3% of the assessment base. The lottery tax would remain unchanged at 20 percent.”

In order to enter into force, the proposal must next be approved by the federal parliament (Bundesrat).

Even though the tax rate for online poker and virtual slots will be decided at the federal level (as a proposed amendment on the national Race Betting and Lottery Act), all resulting tax revenue will be exclusively due to the federal states.

Consequently, Germany's federal government recently declared, in response to parliamentary questions, that it has no interest in instituting a special withholding tax on wagers placed with offshore operators by German customers.

In a recent academic paper, Prof. Dr. Justus Haucap, Director of the Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE), strongly criticized the proposed 5.3% turnover tax. According to Prof. Haucap, a 5.3% turnover tax (on virtual slot machines) would, in practice, be comparable to a 57% tax on GGR – far higher than the European average of ca. 20% – which would make the regulated offering extremely unattractive to German consumers (p. 27).

As a result, both the player channelization rate and the German states’ tax incomes could be expected to suffer dramatically.

Other news

Novomatic reports €263m in losses due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

German online gambling group OGaming has transferred over to a new platform supplied by sportsbook technology provider FSB.

A new report commissioned by GambleAware has found a link between spending on loot boxes and risky gambling behavior. Electronic Arts, publisher of the FIFA game series, responded by stating that none of the loot box mechanics that are present in its games fall within the definition of gambling.

Goldman Sachs believes that US iGaming growth will outpace the growth in other eCommerce sectors.


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