Regional Council of Darmstadt

What is the Regional Council of Darmstadt responsible for? How does a gaming operator apply for an online gambling license, and what are the requirements? Here’s everything you need to know.

The Regional Council of Darmstadt is Germany’s gambling supervision commission, responsible for overseeing compliance and licensing with prospective online casinos in the gambling industry.

Among an extensive agenda, they actively monitor and review online operators in the region's gaming industry to keep players safe and to ensure they’re performing business activities lawfully.

Following global standards and with strict legislation and guidelines, failure to cooperate and comply can result in hefty fines for operators, a revoked gambling license, or total shutdowns in instances of blatant illicit activity.

Here’s what you need to know about the licensing authority's contribution to online gambling and why a gaming business requires a legal license.

Why is an Online Gaming License Required?

Why is an Online Gaming License Required?

Online games, commonly referred to as iGaming, is a form of online gambling that involves the wagering of money on the results of various events or games like sports betting, online poker, virtual slots, etc.

Licensing bodies such as the Regional Council of Darmstadt supervise and control online gaming operators, with a fundamental goal: to protect players, mitigate criminal gambling activities, and prevent underage participation — essentially, gaming licenses make the market a safe and fair environment for all, and compliance with government protocols promotes trust among customers which in turn improves the business’ reputation.

In the ever-evolving online gaming space, a gambling license is granted to businesses that accept and honor a robust set of legislation and guidelines.

To maximize player protection, the compliance body focuses its efforts on responsible online gambling, transparency within the business, and eliminating money laundering.

Responsible Gambling

The convenience of online casinos means the industry is thriving. Players and users with an internet connection, a smart device, or a functional PC or laptop have easy — and instant — access to virtual gaming and gambling platforms.

A gambling establishment must offer a means to self-assess their play to prevent gambling addiction.

Honesty

Doing business with the utmost integrity and transparency improves the players’ trust in the gaming license and the gambling activities available.

How is this achieved? The regulatory body may decide to assess the online gambling business' software to ensure that it’s operating accordingly and to confirm if players are receiving their correct return on invested capital.

Money Laundering

We touched on the illegalities faced in the online casino space.

Having a gaming license means that all iGaming establishments are required to follow and abide by the legislature monitored by the compliance authority to ensure all money and large deposits are coming from a legal source.

They do this by thoroughly inspecting players’ bank accounts to confirm the origins of their money.

Why is an Online Gaming License Required?
Applying for an Online Gambling License

Applying for an Online Gambling License

2021 saw the implementation of the much-anticipated Interstate Treaty on Gambling which included new and limited gambling license opportunities for sports betting, virtual slot games, and online poker for private operators across Germany.

While registering and applying for a gambling license is an arduous undertaking, iGaming establishments that wish to offer live games are obliged to secure one.

An online gambling license demonstrates your pledge to a safe and fair gaming policy. With transparency comes conviction and with conviction comes a favorable reputation.

Because of the strict laws that need to be adhered to, players know that a gambling business with a legal license in the virtual world can be trusted with their personal information, and, most importantly, their money.

Thus, having a licensed gambling business has a knock-on effect, since it promotes loyalty among consumers.

Applying for an Online Gambling License
Requirements to Obtain an Online Gambling License

Requirements to Obtain an Online Gambling License

While each online gaming offering has its own unique set of requirements, the main guidelines of the licensing process are overarching:

Security Depodit

  • An applicant is required to provide a security deposit of at least EUR 5 million and, in some cases, it can be set as high as the expected average monthly turnover, with a maximum of EUR 50 million.

Games Must Be Separated

  • When different online gambling offerings such as sports betting and poker are accessible in the same domain, the gambling business must ensure that they’re independent of each other on the website. Cross-advertising is also prohibited, and a player cannot wager on more than one game at the same time.

Deposit Limit

  • At the registration phase of the online casino's website, a player must set their monthly deposit limit to a maximum of EUR 1,000. To negate the possibility of a player becoming a gambling addict, this requirement is crucial. The regulatory body monitors compliance with the EUR 1,000 limitation via a central database.

Virtual Slot Machine Games

  • For virtual slots, there is a minimum time of 5 seconds per game and a maximum bet of EUR 1.
Requirements to Obtain an Online Gambling License
How to Apply for an Online Gambling License

How to Apply for an Online Gambling License

Furthermore, to qualify for an online gaming license, a completed application form in writing needs to be handed in as well as submitted electronically, along with a declaration.

DOCUMENTS OUTLINING RELIABILITY INCLUDE:

  • A list of authorized representatives.
  • A declaration stipulating their commitment to not offer any form of illegal gambling.
  • Administrative records like a Clearance Certificate.

Capacity

The licensing body is also concerned with an applicant’s capacity in terms of financial competence, expertise, transparency, and security.

Plans And Policies

Applicants need to provide audited ‘concepts’ that outline their intended profitability forecast, their strategy and commitment to responsible gambling, IT security, protection of minors, etc.

In essence, all the plans and policies that the business will have in place.

Advertisement

In terms of online casino advertising, an applicant is required to indicate if they will be advertising independently or if they will be outsourcing externally.

An advertisement concept must accompany a licensing application.

Detailed Information

Additionally, all relevant details about the gaming business and how it will operate must be given.

This includes their game offering that will be assessed and approved by the supervisory authority.

How to Apply for an Online Gambling License
Online Casinos with a Gambling License

Online Casinos with a Gambling License

Much like other countries, entering the iGaming industry in Germany is filled with a web of obstacles for applicants, but since the inception of the fourth amendment to the Interstate Treaty, businesses are lining up for the prestigious authorization.

To date, sports betting licenses have been granted and the Regional Council’s official ‘whitelist’ includes some 35 licensees.

Online poker and virtual slot game licenses are also open for application, although only a limited number of operators have been given the green light for the latter so far.

To date, licenses for online casino games, particularly roulette, blackjack, and baccarat, have not been issued, but as the country's gambling regulation reforms, so too will the guidelines for these specific offerings.

Presently, it is unclear whether live games will be open to private businesses or if they will be run under a state monopoly.

Online Casinos with a Gambling License
Pros and Cons of Obtaining an Online Casino License

Pros and Cons of Obtaining an Online Casino License

Pros:

  • Applying for an online gambling license is a relatively quick process if all is in order.
  • The tax laws are largely agreeable.
  • The gambling laws are straightforward and follow global standards.
  • Proof of licensing can be exhibited on the gaming website.
  • Licensed platforms are trusted and respected by the public.
  • Players feel safe knowing that the gambling site has a legal license.

Cons:

  • Since the online gambling license is relatively new to the region, it’s difficult to figure out if they have any flaws that may be problematic for businesses.
  • The gambling license is expensive and with ongoing monitoring and compliance checks, maintaining its validity is demanding.
Pros and Cons of Obtaining an Online Casino License
Brief History of Online Gambling in Germany

Brief History of Online Gambling in Germany

Germany is a heritage gambling region and while legal iGaming operations are relatively new, land-based establishments date back to the Roman Empire with the oldest casino known to man, Casino Wiesbaden, being built in 1810.

2007 saw the launch of an Austrian online casino, Bwin — the first to begin mobile operations, albeit unlicensed.

Not long after opening, Bwin was blacklisted from accepting German players, but the controversial ruling was later overturned, which is right about the time when iGaming in the region well and truly kicked off.

Brief History of Online Gambling in Germany

FAQ

Everything you need to know about casinos

**What is the Regional Council of Darmstadt responsible for?**

The Regional Council of Darmstadt is a government-run regulator in Germany that is, among other duties, responsible for managing the compliance of online operators in the market.

They are the authoritative body that licenses prospective businesses in the online gambling industry.

**What is Online Gaming?**

Online gaming can denote any game that is played virtually, with or without additional players, via the internet using a computer or smart device.

In the case of gambling, online gaming or iGaming refers to the classic online casino games that involve the wagering of money on the results of offerings such as sports betting, online poker, virtual slots, etc.

**Is Online Gaming Regulated in Germany?**

Yes, online casino gaming is regulated in Germany under the Interstate Treaty on Gambling 2021.

Consumer safety is the top concern of the country’s regulations, particularly the prevention of gambling addiction, protection of minors, moving players into a trusted and controlled market, the pledge of fair gambling practice, combatting fraud and other related crimes, as well as upholding the integrity of sports.

**How does a Gaming Operator Apply for an Online Gambling License?**

To get licensed, an online casino needs to ensure they’re compliant with German regulatory requirements. These include and are not limited to: a robust system of identity verification to prevent underage gambling; anti-money laundering processes; and strategies to stop fraudulent business activities and other gambling-related crimes.

Once those checkboxes have been ticked, operators can move on to the application process that involves completing an application form, along with supporting documents and the license application fee.

Everything is then evaluated for accuracy and validity.

Finally, if all is in order, the license is approved, and the company receives the go-ahead to launch its online gaming site.

**What can Prevent you from Getting an Online Gaming License?**

Gambling legislation is notoriously strict and heavily regulated. Compliance is crucial and will put an applicant in good standing.

Regulations are intended to primarily protect players, so if consumer safety seems jeopardized by incomplete or misleading information in the application process, the license can be denied.

There are a host of guidelines and legal protocols that need to be observed and met before even qualifying for a gaming license.

**What Online Casino Games are Permitted in Germany?**

As it stands, online poker and sports betting licenses have been granted to many business operators.

Online casino games like virtual slots are open for licensing applications too, but under current legislation, others in the vertical, notably roulette, blackjack, and baccarat, have not been issued online gambling licenses.

It is unclear whether these offerings will be open to private operators or if they will be run under a state monopoly.

**Are Gambling Winnings Taxed in Germany?**

Yes, all online gambling winnings are taxable in Germany, and you must account for the income on your tax return.

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