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The end of legal limbo: Gamblers in Germany wish for online casinos with a German license despite restrictions

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A Balanced Take on Optimal RTP for New Turnover Taxation in Germany
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Approval of planned online casino regulation could see market grow to 3.3 Bn Euros by 2024

More and more gambling is taking place online. The closure of land-based gambling businesses due to coronavirus is just one of many growth factors. The trend towards online gambling will be stimulated further by the licensing of casino sites in Germany. According to a recent study, 62% of German online gamblers are willing to use the websites of operators licensed in Germany. The German online casino market forecast made by Goldmedia therefore predicts an increase in gross gambling yields from 2.2 Bn Euros (2019) to 3.3 Bn Euros in 2024.

These are the results of the study ‘Gambling Market in Germany 2020’, conducted by the advisory and research group Goldmedia (www.goldmedia.com) and published with the support from industry platform CasinoOnline.de (www.casinoonline.de). The report presents the recent market developments of the lottery, betting, casino and slot machine sectors up to the year 2019, as well as a market forecast until 2024. The main emphasis within the study is put on online casinos.

New ‘Interstate Treaty on Gambling’ takes online casinos out of the grey area

Online casino operators in Germany who are licensed in another EU country are currently stuck in a legal grey area. As a consequence, player protection can’t always be guaranteed, and the country is losing out on considerable amounts of potential taxes. In March 2020, the German states have therefore agreed to open the market under strict rules for player protection. At the basis of this lies the new Interstate Treaty on Gambling (GlüNeuRegStV), that is currently authorised by the European Commission.

Player protection measures approved by users

Even though the New Interstate Treaty on Gambling envisages stricter player protection measures, than currently are legally requested for online casinos already on the market, the majority of online casino users are happy to embrace further player protection measures: An empiric study of around 400 online casino players has shown that between 56% and 81% approve of the envisaged player protection measures, which include a monthly deposit limit, a fixed maximum stake and technology for early detection of players at risk.

Players would prefer an online casino with a German license, a possible place to find licensed online casinos is on FindFairCasinos.

User surveys, as well as a market simulation, have shown the level of preference of operators licensed in Germany to German players. If given the choice, the vast majority of players (62%) would choose an operator licensed in Germany, despite the regulatory restrictions described in the Interstate Treaty on Gambling. More than a third (38%) would keep playing on websites of operators licensed in another EU country. The decisive factors for those players are, among others, that there are no deposit limits or maximum stakes per game.

Online casinos with a German licence will generate 1.9 Bn Euros by 2024

The prognosis about the liberalised market has been made based on expert assessments and on the preferences listed by players. If the new Interstate Treaty on Gambling comes into force as planned in 2021, the gross gambling yield from operators licensed in Germany could reach 1.9 Bn Euros. The gross gambling yields from operators licensed in an EU country would therefore be halved to 1.2 Bn Euros during the same time period.

Central Europe

Bet-at-home Decides to Temporarily Discontinue Offering Online Casino in Austria

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Bet-at-home AG has announced that it will temporarily discontinue its offering of online casino in Austria, and recognise further provisions due to player lawsuits for repayment of gaming losses.

The Management Board decided during a meeting with the Supervisory Board to put the online casino offering in the country on hold. This is due to the fact that, even though the company considers itself to be lawful, the continuation of the activity before final legal clarification over a period of time that is currently no longer foreseeable would lead to a steadily increasing risk potential that appears indefensible overall.

The Germany-based company had already announced that it was facing legal claims from customers for a reimbursement of gambling losses in the online casino.

In a statement released by the company, the bet-at-home.com AG Group said it still considers the online casino monopoly of the national Austrian gambling regulation to be “contrary to European law”, and considers itself to be a “lawful online casino provider in Austria”.

Regarding the necessity derived from the current European Court of Justice case law of a recurring review also by the Austrian courts, bet-at-home.com AG Group deems it is not taking place to the required extent, and has so far assumed a positive development of case law in particular at the higher courts in the appeal instances, until the end of the first half of 2022.

However, due to a recent decision by the Austrian Supreme Court, it is now unclear whether the bet-at-home.com AG Group will be able to enforce its legal opinion in Austrian courts in the foreseeable future.

The decision on any resumption of the online casino offering in Austria will be made in the future depending on the development of the legal framework, and the company “will continue to use all available legal means to take action against the lawsuits filed in Austria”.

The Management Board also decided to recognise further provisions for the customer lawsuits for reimbursement of player losses that have been pending in Austria to date.

As a result, the Company provisionally expects gross betting and gaming revenues of between EUR 93 million and EUR 98 million for the bet-at-home AG Group in fiscal year 2021 and negative EBITDA of between EUR -14 million and EUR -10 million, which includes expenses of EUR 24.6 million in connection with the Austrian customer lawsuits.

Depending on the decision of the Austrian tax authorities, the Company assumes that gaming levies amounting to 40% of the relevant amounts will have to be refunded to the bet-at-home AG Group on player losses to be reimbursed. However, due to legal uncertainties, these amounts are not used to reduce the aforementioned expenses and are not capitalised.

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Central Europe

Hamburg Games Conference 2022 will focus on “Moving Markets” – digitally & on-site in Hamburg on March 2-3, 2022

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Hamburg Games Conference 2022 will focus on "Moving Markets" - digitally & on-site in Hamburg on March 2-3, 2022
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The 13th Hamburg Games Conference on March 2nd and 3rd, 2022, invites international speakers, games industry experts, thought leaders, and trade visitors to exchange ideas at the hybrid event. Under the conference theme “Moving Markets” it will present keynotes and discussions on the constantly changing markets and business models in the games industry. For the first time, the Hamburg Games Conference is calling for topic proposals in a Call for Speakers. In addition, visitors can expect networking events, an expo area, and matchmaking both online and on-site. For the first time, the Hamburg Games Conference 2022 will pursue a hybrid event concept, where visitors can interact both in Hamburg’s Zeise Cinemas and digitally on a custom developed, playable conference platform. Tickets are available now.

Constant renewal, innovation, and change continue to be the key pillars of the games industry. New sales channels and target groups are opening up, and innovative business models are emerging. So, what will the games industry of tomorrow look like? And how do companies act with foresight and flexibility in the highly competitive games market to play a leading role in the future?

“Growth and change in the games industry received a boost amidst the global pandemic, which continues to shape its face today. We are looking forward to discussing current developments and open perspectives of the future of the industry together at the Hamburg Games Conference” says Dr. Ralph Graef from co-organizer GRAEF Rechtsanwälte.

The second conference track “Games Funding” will focus on news and best practices concerning games funding in Germany from the federal government, and regional funding offers from the federal states, such as the Games Lift Incubator and Prototype Funding in Hamburg.

Hamburg Games Conference: hybrid concept for the first time

This year, the Hamburg Games Conference will bring its international audience together at two locations for the first time: The first day is digital for all participants. On a browser-playable, interactive virtual cruise ship, conference visitors will meet for matchmaking and spontaneous video networking and discover new games projects and services in the online expo. The platform was developed specifically for the conference in 2021 and will be further expanded with new content and functions. For the second day of the conference, the Zeise Cinemas in Hamburg will open their doors with talks, discussion rounds, and networking events. The talks and panel discussions of the main track will also be broadcast live via the online platform.

“Drawing from the experience of the Hamburg Games Conference Online in 2021, we are once again offering international participants who cannot make the trip to Hamburg the event-feeling at home. Through the online platform, we connect participants in Hamburg with industry contacts around the world. Those who grace the ‘Gamecity Hamburg’ with a visit to the conference will also be offered the complete program on-site on March 3, including our Gamecity Treff in the evening,” says Dennis Schoubye, project lead at Gamecity Hamburg.

In 2021, the Hamburg Games Conference welcomed over 650 people from 34 countries to a digital-only edition of the conference. As an on-site event, the Hamburg Games Conference was last held in February 2020 at Zeise Cinemas – with over 400 international visitors.

 

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Central Europe

Greentube expands presence in Germany with NOVOLINE partnership

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Greentube expands presence in Germany with NOVOLINE partnership
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Greentube, the NOVOMATIC Interactive division, has boosted its presence in the German market after taking its content live with local operator NOVOLINE, the online brand of LÖWEN ENTERTAINMENT which is part of the NOVOMATIC Group.

The operator is Greentube’s first German B2B partner to take NOVOMATIC’s blue-chip titles live in the country and the portfolio includes an impressive 165+ games, with many of the top-performers currently only available in the country on a select few websites.

NOVOLINE’s customers now have access to classics Book of Ra™ deluxe, Lucky Lady’s Charm™ deluxe and Sizzling Hot™ deluxe, as well as more recent gaming content including titles from the Diamond Link™ and Cash Connection series.

The partnership is the latest in a string of deals that have seen Greentube introduce its content to licensed operators in Germany since new legislation came into force on 1st July, permitting nationwide online gaming.

NOVOLINE is the online brand of LÖWEN ENTERTAINMENT, one of the leading manufacturers of gaming machines and operator of more than 520 arcades in Germany. Its customers are familiar with NOVOMATIC’s content which it can now offer online for the first time. Players can register for the online offer directly via novoline.de or in one of currently already more than 1,500 partner gaming arcades situated all over Germany.

Michael Bauer, CFO/CGO at Greentube said: “Germany is a key market for us going forward and with our content already popular among local brick-and-mortar players we are excited to expand our presence online through this deal with NOVOLINE. As the first Greentube partner to offer NOVOMATIC’s blue-chip titles in Germany, apart from our own brand StarGames, this partnership is an important step for us as we gain a foothold in this newly-regulated and exciting market.”

Oliver Bagus, Director of LÖWEN ENTERTAINMENT, said: “In 2006, we revolutionised the arcade market with new multi-gamers and NOVOMATIC’s games content. We now want to repeat this technological revolution online. We are thrilled to be one of the first operators to offer players classic titles such as Book of Ra and Sizzling Hot, as well as having the biggest selection of Greentube games on the market with more than 165 titles available.”

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