German betting sites have seen their ups and downs in recent years. Brick and mortar gambling is expressly legal in Germany but online gambling rests in a bit of a legal grey area at the moment. The good news is there are plenty of options for players when it comes to finding a place to play games online.
So, we’ll start with the fun stuff and then later get into the nitty-gritty of German gambling law. Below is a list of safe betting websites that accept Germans. Each of the following sites is an international gambling brand with a license to host real money games. These sites provide casino games, online poker, sports betting, poker and much more.
Germany Betting Sites
It’s important to remember that even though online gambling in Germany is considered “banned”, there are no laws that prevent citizens from signing up and playing. You can make deposits, play and receive cashouts without worry. The laws only apply to gambling operators, not individual players.
German gambling laws are spotty, open to interpretation and have been condemned by the EU for standing in the way of European Union free trade and competition agreements. What this means for you is you can play anywhere you want and face no consequences for doing so.
The sites mentioned above cater to German residents, accept Euros and can process deposits and withdrawals via a variety of banking options. These include Sofortüberweisung, Skrill, Neteller, PayPal, credit cards, Instadebit, Click2Pay and more.
German Betting Sites and Online Gambling Laws
Prior to 2008, Germany’s gambling laws did not address online gambling. No gambling websites operated out of Germany, but many from other locations accepted German customers and people were able to play where they wanted. German lawmakers took notice of this and decided to look into restricting gambling on the grounds of safety and protecting the public from gambling addiction.
Interstate Treaty on Gaming
The Interstate Treaty on Gaming was passed in January of 2008. The legislation banned all forms of online gambling in Germany except for horse racing betting. The treaty also made it possible for authorities to direct financial institutions not to process transactions for Germany gambling sites and to ask internet service providers to block access to German betting websites.
The EU found the treaty to be anti-competitive and ordered Germany to amend the law. Lawmakers acquiesced and amended the treaty in 2011. Fifteen of sixteen states signed the amended treaty. Only the state of Schleswig-Holstein opted out.
The amended Interstate Treaty on Gaming allowed for a total of 20 licenses to be offered for online sports betting websites. Casino games and poker were still prohibited from obtaining licenses. Online sports betting licenses in Germany never materialized as the process was delayed multiple times. To this date, no national licenses have been granted in Germany.
Schleswig-Holstein Gambling Licenses
Schleswig-Holstein had other plans in mind when it opted out of the amended treaty in 2012. That year, the state passed its own gaming act which allowed for up to 50 licenses to be granted to sites offering online poker, casino games and sports betting. Seven of these licenses were granted under the act in 2012.
Elections brought a new state government into power a year later and the state dropped its previous legislation allowing for licenses. The state then joined the Interstate Treaty on Gaming. However, this didn’t happen before seven 6-year licenses went into effect. Instead of rejecting those licenses, the state government decided to let them continue on and will not renew them.
Sites licensed in Schleswig-Holstein were therefore able to operate and offer real money games until the end of 2018. At that time, those licenses expired as lawmakers now consider other options moving forward.
Germany’s Unenforceable Online Gambling Ban
Germany’s ban on online gambling sites is unenforceable. German betting sites may be prohibited from obtaining licenses in Germany, but operators based out of other countries are able to accept signups from Germany. The only thing the current laws achieve is causing the German government to miss out on the tax revenue that could be collected under a legitimate licensing system.
As far as individual players go, you’re still free to play wherever you want. All of the biggest names in online gambling accept customers from all 16 states. They can process payments via well-known banking methods and provide all forms of internet gambling.
It’s likely the laws will change for the better at some point. As it stands now, the German government is accomplishing little with its prohibitive gambling laws. Lawmakers will either eventually come to accept this fact and take steps to regulate betting sites in Germany or ban all forms of gambling. I’m betting on the former.
Mounting pressure from the European Union is also likely to serve as a catalyst for change. In February of 2016, the Court of Justice for the European Union (CJEU) issued a ruling against Germany’s gambling laws. In short, the court found that Germany’s so-called licensing process amounted to protectionism of the state’s monopoly over online betting. This runs counter to European free trade agreements and serves as the basis for the CJEU’s ruling. EU officials have called upon Germany to update its betting laws to become compliant with EU agreements.
In April of 2016, the EU once again ruled against Germany’s online gambling laws. That ruling found that Germany’s existing laws run afoul of EU treaties (again), but this time it also gave online betting sites licensed in other EU nations the ability to offer their services to Germans without legal repercussions.
Deposit Methods for Germans
Although previous legislation gives the government the power to restrict banking transactions to unlicensed gaming sites, no actions to that effect have been taken. Once you choose a place to play, you have numerous options for funding your account and withdrawing.
- Credit Card
- Sofortüberweisung by Skrill
Wes Burns has more than a decade’s worth of experience as a writer, researcher, and analyst in the legal online betting industry and is co-founder of OnlineBettingSites.com. Wes approaches his work from the viewpoint of players.