Online gambling is mostly outlawed in Germany. We say
“mostly” because Germany is one of those places where it’s
definitely illegal to host a gaming site, but the legality of
just placing bets online is unclear. A certain interpretation of
German law could classify the act of placing a bet online as
illegal, but the authorities appear to have no interest in
reading or enforcing the law in that manner.
One thing we can tell you for certain is that online gambling
is popular in Germany. More importantly, not a single German has
ever gotten in trouble placing a bet over the internet. The
legal battles in that country mostly revolve around the right of
operators to offer their services to the public.
Where to Play Online
Any Germans reading this should look to gambling sites based
out of the country. Current national law doesn’t allow for the
licensing of casino sites, so people resort to foreign
operators. Companies based outside of Germany aren’t beholden
to German law and can therefore accept wagers from anyone inside
The main thing to remember when dealing with foreign
operators is that you have no legal recourse under German law if
something happens to your money. It’s best to stick with
gambling sites that are licensed by reputable jurisdictions such
as the UK or the Isle of Man. Equally important is the
reputation of each site in terms of paying players and hosting
Stick with the places recommended here to ensure your safety
and get paid when you win. These are some of the biggest names
in the global gaming market, and they are as legit as any
brick-and-mortar casino in Germany.
German Law is in a State of Flux
The difficulty in analyzing the German market is that the
laws have experienced a great deal of turbulence in recent
times. Adding to the confusion is the ability of each state to
regulate gambling how it sees fit.
Germany is a mix of wide-reaching national laws and more
limited state laws. Some forms of betting are allowed in some
states while others are banned in others. It’s also apparent
that incoming governors are not afraid to completely reverse
gaming laws enacted by their predecessors.
Up until 2008, online gambling was unregulated in Germany.
The laws at the time didn’t address the internet in any way.
Things changed when the Interstate Treaty on Gambling (ISTG) was
passed in 2008. This effectively banned all forms of online
gambling other than sports betting and horse racing offered by
All 16 states initially joined the treaty. The state of
Schleswig-Holstein opted out in 2012 and even issued licenses to
about 3 dozen operators, including PokerStars and 888. It would
not last for long. The move was reversed just a year later when
the state government was voted out of office and the new
governor took over.
The good news for the operators that went through the trouble
of getting licensed is their 6-year licenses remain in effect.
All operators who earned licenses are able to provide real money
casino games and poker to players inside the state of
Schleswig-Holstein until 2018.
As things stand now, online gambling is largely outlawed
across Germany with the exception of the two dozen or so operators
who have licenses to operate in Schleswig-Holstein. There are no
other legal gaming sites in Germany, and there’s no way to
obtain a license to offer games.
German gaming laws violate EU rules regarding free trade and
competition. The EU has chastised Germany for its harsh stance
on gambling, but Germany seems destined to keep things as they
are for the time being. In the meantime, we would like to point
you to any of the safe and reputable gaming sites mentioned on
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