Online poker in Germany

    • pecisc
      pecisc
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.04.2008 Posts: 7
      Hey,

      i was just looking for some information regarding online poker in Germany, however, i could not find anything convincing either confirming or denying the leagality of online poker in Germany.

      Could someone please clarify this?

      Thanks
  • 4 replies
    • OoT4NKoO
      OoT4NKoO
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.10.2012 Posts: 92
      Isn't it still a grey area? The EU got involved and it's been up in the air ever since...

      Or am I talking shit?
    • UPAY4DINNER
      UPAY4DINNER
      Bronze
      Joined: 27.09.2009 Posts: 21,975
      Hey guys,

      I've asked a colleague from our DE Community for some help with this thread.


      Best regards,
      Gary
    • ikkvr
      ikkvr
      Bronze
      Joined: 19.12.2012 Posts: 995
      Last 4 guys to win over 1million on stars in an online tournament are germans :) so must be playable there :D
    • Krupsinator
      Krupsinator
      Moderator
      Moderator
      Joined: 24.05.2010 Posts: 13,211
      Hi guys,

      First and foremost: This is no legal advice, I am neither allowed nor able to give such. Also I do not claim this to be complete at all and it is no official company statement of PokerStrategy.com.

      Online Poker in Germany is playable at almost every poker room (only exception I know is paddypowerpoker as they decided to withdraw from the German market 1.5 years ago). This of course does not mean automatically that it is absolutely legal.

      It is indeed kind of a grey area. In general games of luck for real money are just allowed in state-licensed casinos (which are just brick and mortar casinos and just very few) or in the state-licensed lottery and sport betting agency where you can bet in betting shops or pretty much in every post office or stationery shop :D They do not offer online services.

      Now we get to the interesting point: Is poker a game of skill or a game of luck? Well it is neither pure skill nor pure luck but what is it legally, game of luck or not?

      The general approach of the state is that poker is a game of luck but there has been no real court decision about this yet. There has been a decision that Skat (its a German card game with less luck involved than poker) is a game of skill but this must not mean anything for poker.

      Important: There has been no case (as far as I am aware) where somebody got legal problems for playing online poker. Taxes are another thing, there are some lawsuits running because of taxes but nobody got a punishment just for playing. I can also not imagine that they can punish anyone who is playing on a poker room which has an EU license (i.e. licensed in Malta, Gibraltar, UK, France). Actually I can also not imagine it for any other license^^

      Another general thing of the German law as it is at the moment (I am not sure if this is 100% legally correct but I assume so):
      If a game is a game of skill you need to pay taxes on your winnings but you can play it legally for real money. If a game is a game of luck you do not need to pay taxes on your winnings but you can't play it legally.

      Exception is a state regulation, e.g. like the state has the monopoly for lotteries and the state lottery is legal. Also the state could of course regulate online poker.

      The regulation of online gambling is made in the "Glücksspielstaatsvertrag" (I will call it treaty in the following) which is basically a document where the 16 states of Germany (this kind of legislation is their thing and is not done centrally) came together to make a legislation together. In the first version which was valid for a few years online gambling was forbidden and just the state lottery and betting I mentioned was allowed (horrible odds btw. the payout of the state lottery is 50%).

      Now it gets interesting again:

      In 2011 they changed the treaty to a system where still mainly the state lotteries are allowed but there will be 20 licenses for private online sports betting companies. Online poker and casino games would still not be allowed. The online sports betting companies would need to pay 20% taxes of the players bets. As I am not really into sports betting I have no idea if any of these licenses have been awarded yet.
      Good thing: No blacklisting of other operators (even if they are not legal) is planned in this treaty.

      This treaty was signed by 15 out of 16 German states. Just the state of Schleswig-Holstein did not sign the treaty straight away but wanted to do his own thing. They also awarded licenses for online poker and casino games. Well then the government changed in Schleswig-Holstein and they signed the treaty. But the licenses have been given out already, so some operators (many of the major ones) have a Schleswig-Holstein license. Now it is not clear what to do with it and if it is maybe even applicable in any way on the other states of Germany.

      The only poker room who has done something is bwin.party, they have recently migrated the players from Schleswig-Holstein to sh.bwin.de. According to the laws under which the license was issued they cannot play any fast fold poker and no tableselection is possible, you just choose your limit and you are seated at a random table in cash game. The player pool is not separated though.

      Not sure if other poker rooms will follow and when. The license are also just valid for a few years and it is possible that they will not be lengthened (because the Schleswig-Holstein government does not like them but they can't do anything against it).

      Also it is of course not sure if the treaty which is in place at the moment is EU-compliant but I think this is a problem that every country has at the moment, with and without regulation.

      Kind regards,
      Krupsinator


      P.S. I can also write some things about taxation on poker in Germany but not sure if this is of any interest :D