Slowly, the long-running dispute over legal guidelines for offering online gambling in another German state is coming to an end. Last week, the government of North Rhine-Westphalia approved online gambling in the state.
Last Thursday, the North Rhine-Westphalia state parliament passed a law to allow the issuance of gambling concessions to online casino operators. According to the DPA news agency, the number of licenses is only five. The state does not rely on a state monopoly, which allows for similar offers to be made by state companies.
iGaming Finds a New Home in Germany
The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Free Democratic Party (FDP), two political groups, pushed for the new regulation. However, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Greens opposed it. A fifth party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), decided not to vote.
Herbert Reul, a CDU member and the State Minister for Internal Affairs, reiterated that the EU Commission had approved of Germany’s iGaming initiatives and that there were no objections. The draft also found approval in previous government committees.
The bill outlines a number of features. One of the main themes is the desire to reduce black-market activity in the region. The new laws will reduce the risk of fraud, manipulation, and illicit advertising behavior, according to policymakers. The bill endorses the claim that gaming designs and formats can to lower the addictiveness of content offered by outside providers.
The draft bill includes regulatory measures that focus on operator responsibility and player protection.
This development will undoubtedly offer a significant opportunity for the region’s gaming industry. North Rhine-Westphalia is home to 17.9 million people and is the richest state in the country. Online markets may benefit from the continuation of COVID-19 concerns. However, brick-and-mortar properties are still not attracting consumer confidence.
Gambling Opponents Speak Up
The opposition voiced their disapproval. The opposition was mainly critical of the lack of controls to stop gambling addiction. For example, providers should not be able to attract customers by aggressive advertising.
The opponents also want a prohibition on discounts and bonuses. The FDP, on the other hand, emphasized that responsible users already know what they are doing.
iGaming in Germany was illegal until last year. The new State Treaty on Gambling changed this. Although the treaty’s entry into force didn’t make the matter an immediate priority, it gave federal states the freedom to create their own regulations.
The treaty allows states to establish anything from a complete ban to a liberal market. Some, such as Thuringia, have decided that a monopoly is the best way to go.
North Rhine-Westphalia, which is home to Cologne, Dortmund and the state capital of Düsseldorf, feels differently. It recognizes that a legal gaming market can help reduce the black market and reduce gaming risks.
So far, there has been no information about who might receive licenses to operate in the state. There are also no updates on when the government may provide the licenses.
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