Germany

Online poker companies will now be considered when licenses to offer online gambling in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein (SH) are issued, as Interior Minister Andreas Breitner reportedly now understands that he can “no longer exclude the rightful licensing” of online poker, alongside other gambling such as sportsbetting and casino games.

Seven licenses have been issued so far in SH: Three back in May and four more issued a week later. All of them have been sports betting licenses—recipients include bwin.party, Bet365 and Betfair—although of the 40 applicants on the list, 14 are for poker and casino games.

The new ruling coalition party, who came to power just days after the first licenses were issued, have historically been opposed to the liberal licensing system, and is looking to repeal the law and join the other 15 states in a new law that issues a limited number of sportsbetting licenses but bans online poker. This law was ratified back in June but has had little effect on the industry.

The ruling coalition initially considered repealing the seven licenses issued, a process that faces serious legal challenges. It later admitted that not only would repealing existing licenses be unworkable, but that it could not prevent new licenses from being issued before the legislation is repealed. Up to six new licenses will be awarded this month.

This week’s statement further softens the stance of the party. According to a statement by CDU politician Hans-Jörn Arp, speaking to German publication Games und Business, Andreas Breitner is no longer opposed to online poker companies receiving licenses. Arp also urges them to not stall on issuing rightful licenses to applicants.

“It would be a huge embarrassment if the State’s government would be overruled by the courts for opposing a standing law,” commented Arp.

He also added that the number of players playing online poker is “rapidly rising,” and there was the need for clear guidelines in the law to protect young players and prevent addiction. Currently, German players are afforded less protection for playing on offshore sites, he argues, stating “Malta is only a mouse-click away.”