February 23, 2024 3 min read


German Regulator Appeals for Stricter Measures against Illegal Operators

The authority spoke out against the recent initiative to decriminalize unregulated gambling, arguing that the controversial measure was the opposite of what the German market needed

At the recent Lotto Talk event in Berlin, the Gemeinsamen Glücksspielbehörde der Länder (GGL), Germany’s gambling regulator, appealed to the Federal Ministry of Justice to reconsider a recent amendment to criminal law. The authority is concerned about the potential loss of essential tools to combat illegal gambling. Leading licensed operators have also spoken out against the changes, sparking ongoing debate.

The GGL Highlighted the Dangers of Decriminalization

Ronald Benter, a board member of the GGL, discussed the pressing challenges faced by the authority, emphasizing the possible negative impact of the planned reform, which aims to decriminalize unregulated gambling. Currently, the GGL can file criminal charges for the suspected illegal organization of gambling. However, the proposed changes seek to eliminate this option from the criminal code.

The GGL’s position is that the ongoing debate about whether German criminal law applies to gambling providers based abroad can fit within the existing legal norms. Benter implored the government to reconsider its plans. He instead proposed the opposite measure, arguing that the possibility of criminal prosecution abroad would deter illegal providers.

We would like the Federal Ministry of Justice to rethink the planned reform and rather demand that the paragraph be expanded to include illegal gambling providers based abroad.

Ronald Benter, GGL board member

A formal letter from the GGL to Federal Minister of Justice Dr. Marco Buschmann implored the addition of these harsher measures to criminal law. According to Benter, the possible consequences of decriminalizing illegal gambling could lead to a regulatory gap and decriminalize many money laundering schemes that rely on black market operators.

Industry Stakeholders Demand Stricter Measures

Licensed operators in Germany share GGL’s opinion. High-profile gaming company Entain highlighted a University of Leipzig report, revealing only about 50.7% of players engaged with licensed online gambling providers. The prevalence of black market entities is highly damaging to the sector’s long-term sustainability, undermining lawful businesses and invalidating the GGL’s gambling harm prevention efforts.

Burkhard Blienert, the German federal government’s addiction commissioner, also vehemently criticized the intended relaxation of criminal law, noting it could severely impede authorities’ ability to detect unauthorized gambling and overwhelm regulatory bodies with excessive controls. He also advocated for amended regulations encompassing foreign operators.

The ongoing debates around the legal status of unregulated gambling highlight one of the German market’s most pressing issues. While the GGL can enforce its rules on regulated entities, companies based abroad can often operate with impunity and circumvent measures like IP address blocks. Improved laws could bolster the regulated sector’s competitiveness and ensure users can enjoy their hobby in a safe environment.

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

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