- Gambling in Germany
- Is it legal?
- Restrictions for German Players
- Gambling Taxes
- About the market
- Germany’s TOP bookmakers
- How to choose the right bookie?
- Popular betting features in Germany
- Bonuses for German Players
- Germany's Favourite Sports
- Are the Online Casinos popular?
- Preferred Payment Methods in Germany
- Mobile apps for German Customers
- Final comment
- Currency: Euro
- Population: 82, 400,00
- Active Players: Estimated at 46,000,000
- Designated authority: Respective state authorities
- Regulated Gambling Products: Sports betting, lotteries, horse racing, online betting sites currently licensed by the State of Schleswig Holstein.
- Types of Operators: Brick-and-mortar casinos, state-run betting shops, and lotteries, foreign-based companies
Did you know that?
- The illegal gambling market in Germany is estimated to be between €4bn to €22bn. This is according to Reeckmann
- As many as 200,000 Germans were employed in the gambling industry in 2018
- The legal gambling age is between 18 and 21 years depending on the state
- Online gambling is outlawed across Germany; apart from a few operators who have licenses to operate in Schleswig-Holstein
- To be licensed an online gambling provider needs to provide a social concept to show how they intend to protect minors and problem gambling
- The term ‘poker’ was coined from a German word, ‘pochen’
- The German Government imposes a 5% tax on the stake money for each bet placed online.
Gambling in Germany
Gambling has quite a long and rich history in the German region. Historians will tell you that this is a history that dates way back in the 1700s when the world’s first formal casino was opened in Germany. As a matter fact, the term ‘poker’ was coined from a German word, ‘pochen,’ which loosely translates to ‘the bragging game.’ Over the years, the gambling industry in Germany has evolved in many ways. Land-based casinos are still very much visible around German cities, undisturbed by the thriving online betting industry. Currently, the gambling industry in Germany is estimated to be worth well over €35 billion.
But underneath all this, ostensibly glamorous billions of the gambling industry is an intricate and often tricky legal maze that casino operators, as well as players, have to cope with. In this article, we will be doing a detailed review of the German betting markets landscape. This article gives a comprehensive guide on the legal mines to avoid as well as how to go about accessing the best and most recommended online betting sites for German players.
Is gambling in Germany legal?
The short answer to this question is ‘Yes.’ There is no blanket prohibition on gambling in Germany. It is worth noting that the country has a legal framework that is somewhat prohibitive to betting companies. In theory, betting might not be outrightly prohibited. However, in practice, the German government runs a virtual monopoly on the industry. This is especially so when it comes to lotteries and horse races. The larger share of most of the land-based betting shops and lotteries are operated by Oddset, which is a state-owned corporation.
The online betting scene is quite different. The industry had been mostly liberal up until the start of 2008 when the Interstate Treaty on Gambling came into force. This was a law that targeted absolute prohibition of online gambling in 15 states. In addition to denying and cancelling any previously issued licenses, the law stretched further to offshore companies targeting the German market. Access to such offshore betting sites was essentially cut off.
As expected, these changes caused an uproar from big industry players in the European markets, let alone the players in the local German market. The European Gaming and Betting Association has been at the forefront of this lobbying, arguing that these laws were in contravention of the EU trade rules.
As of 2012, things got a bit lax, and individual states got the mandate to regulate online gambling, with the supervision of the national government. This changes in 2012 opened the door to about 50 online betting companies that were licensed by the Schleswig Holstein government. Although the state government later went back on its liberalization of the industry, they were unable to revoke the 50 licenses issued, which remain in force until 2021.
Do German Players get restricted by some bookmakers? Why?
It is worth noting that while online betting and gambling might not be illegalized in Germany, some bookmakers and online casinos shy away from this market owing to its complicated legal statutes. As such, it will not be surprising to see quite a number of offshore betting companies restricting access to German players
Still, as we will see later on in this article, we still do have a substantial number of offshore betting companies readily accepting players from Germany. There is also the option of accessing the restricted sites using a VPN, although this is not quite recommended. The dangers of playing in such offshore online betting sites that are not licensed in Germany is that players will have little to no legal recourse in case things go sideways with such companies. This is the essence of having licenses and regulations such that a player can quickly seek help if they feel aggrieved by an online betting site.
How much tax do you pay on gambling winnings in Germany?
As part of the laws that have been passed to discourage online betting is a clause that imposes a 5% tax on the stake money for each bet placed online. Unlike in other jurisdictions where the betting tax is charged on wins, Germany charges the fee on the stake. This makes it quite hard for a player to end up making any substantial profits from their betting activities.
To mitigate this negative impact on players, some German betting sites device ways of reducing the cost on the player’s end. Some will opt to incur the tax on behalf of the player. With another reputable site, they will only deduct the tax amount on winning bets, giving some reprieve to losing bets.
About the gambling market
A stroll through any big city in the country and you will surely come across one or two brick and mortar casino. This sector of the industry has remained largely unaffected by the shifty gambling laws. But as industry trends show, more and more players prefer gaming online than in the traditional land-based casinos. As such, online gaming has recorded relatively higher growth rates than the land-based casinos
Even with the brick and mortar market, the German government has quite some substantial control. Oddset owns most of the betting shops you’ll find around. Lotteries are mainly offered under the German Lotto and Totoblock (DLTB) umbrella. This is an association of about 16 nationally approved lottery companies. These tend to take the lion share of the German betting markets.
Alongside these two operators is a handful of other vibrant online betting sites operating in the German market as well. As we will see in the next section below, the market here is not that competitive, thanks to the government’s negative attitude towards online betting.
Based on a recent survey, more than a third of all gambling activities in the country is towards sports betting. Casino games come in a close second, with poker being the third favourite alternative. Despite the legal hurdles, this is still quite a busy market, estimated to generate well over €4 billion worth of revenue every year.
Germany’s TOP bookmakers
Amid the tumultuous online betting environment in Germany, a few sites emerge as reliable for the German players. Among this list of best bookmakers in German are companies that were lucky enough to get the licenses from the government in Schleswig Holstein.
Bet365Bet365 has already made a name in the global online betting and gaming industry. The unique green and yellow logo is quite familiar to many avid gamers around. So when the opportunity to jump into the lucrative German betting market opened, it came as no surprise that Bet365 was among the few companies to acquire a license here. With the license from the Schleswig Holstein, players are assured they are working in a fully legal environment that is regulated by the state government.
The Bet365 site serves a good variety of online betting products which include sports betting markets, horse races, an online casino as well as virtual sports. The odds here are standardized, making sure players get fair prices for their bets. Overall, Bet365 offers some pretty solid online betting platform that works quite well for players in Germany. So what are the pros and cons of using Bet365 in Germany?
- Wide variety of sports betting markets
- Offers horse racing markets as well
- It is an established brand thus trustworthy
- Already licensed to operate
- Great prices and odds
- Limited payment methods for German players
- Some sports markets lack the cash-out option
UnibetThis is another reliable and highly recommended site that makes betting in Germany easy. Just as with Bet365, Unibet is another longstanding betting company with a history that goes way back to 1997. The parent company has successfully launched and currently operates a series of other successful online betting and playing platforms.
For players in Germany, they can count on Unibet to deliver an all-in-one gaming site. There is a sports betting section, online casino, poker as well as a live casino. Unibet has successfully thrived in the harsh German online betting industry to emerge among the best bookmakers, especially in sports betting.
- An all-inclusive platform combining a sportsbook and online casino
- Safe and secure gaming portal
- Offers live streaming services
- Supports in-play live bets
- Limited payment methods
- Does not support live chats
BetfairBetfair is also another reputable global betting brand that holds a license to operate in Germany. The company made good use of the window of opportunity in the Schleswig Holstein province and acquired the license for local online betting services. With Betfair, players can expect to get world-class betting services.
Just as with the other two brands we have mentioned so far, Betfair features a sportsbook as well as a casino. Being a global betting company, you can be assured of getting some attractive odds here with selected games and events. However, it is worth noting that most of the prices here tend to be around the average offered in the global markets.
- Good variety of betting markets
- User-friendly site layout
- A good number of lucrative bonuses and promotions
- Lacks a downloadable mobile app
- Limited in the number of withdrawal options
What to consider when choosing a Betting Site in Germany?
In addition to the top sites we have mentioned above, the market is still vibrant, with a good number of online betting sites. You will notice that most of the companies operating here are not licensed in Germany, but instead are offshore companies. It might be recommended to play in such site for obvious legal reasons. However, you can still find a trustworthy offshore site that appropriately serves your online gaming needs. So what factors should Germans consider when choosing their betting site?
- Is the betting site licensed?
This is arguably one of the most critical questions a player anywhere ought to consider when choosing a betting site. With the stringent government measures in the German market, licensing information becomes more important than ever. An online site that is licensed and regulated locally gives you the confidence that you are protected and such a company cannot go back on their service delivery promise. Even when you opt to play in the offshore site operating in Germany, it is still important to consider the license the company holds, and the regulator’s history indispute resolution.
- Is it a reputable brand?
The proliferation of the internet has made it much easier for bookies to set up shop and start operating in the global market. As such, each day, we see the launch of dozens of online betting sites. While it is interesting to try out new sites, it could turn out to be a misadventure if this is a rogue company behind the brand name. It is therefore advisable you work with a reputable brand. This does not mean you play in old online casinos only. You can research a bookmaker’s reputation by reading reviews done by other players as well.
- What payment methods are available?
Of what use would it be if you win a jackpot that you cannot withdraw? Generally, online gaming sites in Germany tend to be relatively limited in the modes of deposits and withdrawals. You will, therefore, have to consider the banking options at a website before you commit your real cash there. We will be reviewing the various modes of payment available in this market in the latter section of this article.
- What promotions and bonuses are available?
Wining at a casino or bookmaker depends on both luck and your skill. However, bonuses and promos go a long way to boosting your chances of such wins. In addition to looking for attractive betting markets, you need to search for the best bookmakers offers as well. The free cash offered will give you the much-needed boost when going for the grand prize.
- General User Experience and Customer Support
Whether you win or lose, one important factor that determines whether you go back to a gaming site is the kind of experience you had. This cuts across from the site layout and ease of use to the nature of customer support services offered. You’d want to play in an aesthetically impressive site where you can easily reach the customer support team, in addition to finding your way around the site pages.
The most popular betting features and options in Germany
The German betting market is well in with the trends of the global betting industry. The companies operating here have brought on board some of the currently most sought after products in the online betting industry. These include;
- In-play live betting on various sports
- Live Streaming of matches
- Mobile betting
- Cash-out option on live matches
- Build-a-Bet feature that allows you to customize your combo bets
These are also some important factors you can put into consideration when choosing the best betting site to play at. You would not want to miss out on some of these unique features which make betting even more interesting.
Available bonuses for German Players
For German players, they will be in a position to capitalize on most of the offers and promotions available at the German online sportsbooks and casino. It is important to note that you will seldom come across such a site offering bonuses exclusive to German players only. Instead, most of these operators will have blanket promotions that cover all their clients, including those in Germany as well. These bonuses could be anything from welcome offers to promos for existing players. For instance, with Unibet, which we have reviewed above, you will find there is a welcome bonus for both their sportsbook and online casino.
The favourite sports of the German bettors
Germany, as a country, has a long-standing history of excelling in various sports fields. When it comes to the betting markets, the popularity of a particular sport determines how the market on that sport performs. For instance, football is one of the most popular games in the country. The Bundesliga, Germany’s top tier football division league, draws in audiences from all around the world. As such, football ranks as one of the most popular sports in the betting markets. Horse racing is equally important among the German sporting fraternity thus performs very well in the betting markets. Other sports that draw in substantial betting traffic include ice hockey, handball, boxing, and basketball.
Are Online Casinos popular on the market?
A recent survey showed that about 49% of adults in the country participate in some form of online betting activity. So what portion of this traffic is directed towards online casinos? The majority of Germans tend to be interested in sports betting more than online casinos. This can be attributed to the fact that the land-based casinos have an extensive network in the cities, pulling in more players. Also, the regulations tend to favour such brick and mortar casinos over the online ones. Nonetheless, online casinos have been recording an increase in the number of visitors they receive each day from Germany. Curiously, the majority of these players are ladies. The most popular games in the online casinos here are slots and poker. Other categories of betting games such as lotto and bingo also have quite a large following in Germany.
Currency and Preferred Payment Methods in Germany
Germans trade using Euros. It, therefore, follows that the online casinos in Germany also accept bets in Euros. However, it is not uncommon to find a betting site accepting multiple types of currencies, depending on the markets in which they serve. One thing you will notice when it comes to transacting in these German online casinos is that the modes of payment applicable are quite limited, in contrast to other European markets.
Among the modes of payment applicable with these German betting sites include popular methods such as Neteller, Skrill, Sofort, Cash2Code, MuchBetter, and Giropay. In the recent past, we have seen newer payment platforms such as ApplePay also joining the party. In addition to these, you can also use traditional card payments with Visa and MasterCard. It is, however, worth noting that the availability of any of these payment methods depends on the individual online casino or bookie.
Bookies with mobile apps for German customers
Online bookies and casino operators in Germany are pretty much aware of the impact mobile gaming is having in the general betting industry. More and more operators are encouraging players to play on their mobile devices, which is much faster and convenient than having to use regular PC sites. With most of the bookies operating in Germany have native apps for android and iOS mobile devices. These include 22Bet, 1XBet, and Betfair.
You will also notice that for bookies that may lack a native downloadable app, there is still the option of accessing their site through regular mobile browsers. This option as well delivers the same quality of online gaming as the desktop site.
Are there any online casinos licensed in Germany?
Yes, thanks to the relatively liberal laws in the state of Schleswig Holstein, you will find a number of online betting sites licensed in Germany. These include giant brands such as Bet365 and Unibet.
What organization is mandated with regulating online casinos and bookmakers in Germany?
Regulating gambling is devolved as a regional state function rather than a national government role. As such, there is no one universal body in charge of such regulation.
Is it illegal to bet on offshore sites not licensed in Germany?
This is largely a grey area. The government prohibits such online betting activities. However, a court ruling that involved BWIN, a giant in the online betting industry, set a precedent that virtually allowed players to access such foreign sites.
Can German players deposit and withdraw from an online sportsbook using Skrill or Neteller?
This depends on the rules of a specific gaming site. Generally, sites that are licensed outside the EU tend to shy away from using Neteller and Skrill. But there is German betting site where you can transact using these popular e-wallets.
Is horse race betting legal in Germany?
Yes, horse racing is among the most popular sports here. Not only can you bet in physical betting shops, but you will also find a good number of online bookies offering markets in the German horse racing scene.
The German betting industry is a lucrative yet tricky one to master. From all looks and intents, the government is determined to curb the growth of the online betting industry. But thanks to the intervention of the EU and several court cases later, things have eased up slightly. Players can still find some reliable companies to play at without having to risk with some ‘illegal’ offshore sites. It remains to be seen how the industry will change in 2021 at the lapse of the licensing agreement issued by Schleswig Holstein. In the meantime, German players can continue to enjoy playing in this relatively calm environment.