The history of gambling is a long one and almost as old as mankind itself. According to the current state of science, this has been around since around 3000 BC. The first finds of six-part cubes and bones from China date from this period. Similar finds from the same period have been made in the Mesopotamia region. Not only did the fun of the game seem to have been established at that time, but also certain regulations were introduced early on. For example, in the Sanskrit text “Arthashastra” from the 4th century BC. Already taken advocates of the introduction of a gambling taxation and possible gambling restrictions.
From this we can draw the conclusion that gambling has always been associated with some kind of regulation. And that brings us to the topic: In the last few months in particular, the gaming operators and players themselves have been dealing with a very sensitive issue, namely the State Treaty on Gambling (GlüStV) 2021. What we can expect is not yet entirely clear.
But in the meantime let’s look back at the individual stages of the State Treaty on Gambling 2021. From the State Treaty on Lottery from 2004 to the new draft of the State Treaty on Gambling in 2021, there have always been challenges to create new regulations that are as compatible as possible with the interests of player protection, state monopoly, gaming providers and many more.
Let’s start with the State Lottery Treaty from 2004.
2004 – the State Lottery Treaty
On July 1, 2004, the State Lottery Treaty officially came into force in Germany. But what innovations did it bring with it? Well, in principle, the State Lottery Treaty introduced a more up-to-date case law on the approval of private lotteries, because up until now the state has approved the entire range of games of chance, including casinos, sports betting and also lotteries. The international lottery treaty thus unified the different rules of gambling. With the permission of the private lotteries, it was immediately possible for private organizers to operate lotteries.
The 2000s – online gambling is on the rise
There was a real boom in online gambling in the early 2000s. And not only in Germany, but also on an international level. The reason for this rapid increase in online gambling offers was probably the equally quick award of the corresponding gambling licenses, which mainly came from Great Britain and Malta. The German gamblers were enthusiastic about this development and as the figures from this time show, the interest in online poker in Germany grew. Why this? This “phenomenon” is attributed to the “moneymaker effect”: Chris Moneymaker, an amateur poker player, won the World Series of Poker in 2003 and got the German masses interested in it.
The need to regulate online poker brought new challenges. A topic that was not yet addressed in the 2004 lottery treaty.
2008 – the first state treaty on gambling
On January 1, 2008, the first state treaty on gaming came into force. The aim was to regulate Online Casinos in Germany. In this state treaty, the term gambling was specifically defined. From now on, gambling should be used “if a fee is required for the acquisition of a chance of winning in a game and the decision about winning depends entirely or primarily on chance.”
In addition to the definition of gambling, the aim of the State Treaty on Gambling was, among other things, to take action against the emergence of gambling addiction and to ensure sufficient protection of young people and gamblers. In addition, gambling advertising was banned on TV and the Internet.
This state treaty did not result in a liberalization of sports betting. Rather the opposite happened and the state stabilized its monopoly on sports betting.
2012 – the State Treaty on Gambling is changed
In December 2011 the time had come: the first State Treaty to amend the first State Treaty on Gaming came into force. These included, for example, that the regulations for gambling advertising were further tightened and that online casinos and online poker were banned.
All federal states with the exception of Schleswig-Holstein agreed to the change. Schleswig-Holstein classified the new regulations as too strict. Even then, Schleswig-Holstein was in favor of legalizing online casinos. In 2012, the state succeeded in issuing the first gaming licenses.
Furthermore, it was increasingly difficult to draw the line between online casino and sports betting, because most online gambling providers offer both online casino and sports betting.
Finally, Schleswig-Holstein joined the changes to the first State Treaty on Gaming in 2013. Licenses that have already been issued by Schleswig-Holstein should remain valid for a period of six years.
2015 and 2017 – the failure of the amending treaty and the second interstate treaty amending the interstate gaming treaty
After the failure of the first state treaty to amend the GlüStV in 2015, there was another change two years later: In 2017, the second gambling amendment was made, which pursued the main goal of allowing an unlimited number of sports betting licenses to be issued.
Schleswig-Holstein and this time also NRW opposed this. The two federal states supported the legalization of sports betting, but wanted one for online casinos as well. This amending treaty was also unsuccessful without the consent of Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia.
2020 – Amendment of the State Treaty on Gambling
The third amendment to the State Treaty on Gambling was a kind of way out of the faltering award procedure for sports betting licenses: The experimental phase for sports betting was extended until the end of June 2021. Sports betting providers operating without a valid license were deemed illegal.
2020 – new draft of the State Treaty – a regulation of gambling
The draft of the State Treaty on the Regulation of Gambling (in force since July 2020) is intended to curb the spread of unregulated online gambling.
With the entry into force of the new State Treaty (2021) it would be possible that online casinos will soon be subject to very strict player protection regulations. Until then, however, there will be a transition phase that will give online gaming providers the opportunity to adapt their offers to the future German gaming contract in order to be eligible for a corresponding license.