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Poker news | Dec 07, 2020

New German Online Poker Legislation

By RTR Dennis

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New Legislation Could Throw German Online Poker Into Turmoil


Among the regulations are strict table and deposit limits, changes to the seating system and more stringent "know your customer" (KYC) requirements.

The changes went into effect Oct. 15 and are meant to prepare operators and customers for July 2021, when everything becomes law. As of now, it's a state of "transitional tolerance," according to the reporting of Poker Industry PRO ($).

What Does it Mean for German Online Poker Players?

The most clear and significant changes for poker players in Germany will be as follows:

  • They'll be permitted to play a maximum of four tables simultaneously.
  • They won't be able to choose their seats or table select.
  • They'll be capped at €1,000 in deposits per month.
  • They'll have access to a "panic button" that will instantly impose a self-ban for 24 hours.

Some online poker sites did already have table caps in place, although usually not for multi-table tournaments.

"Blind lobbies" or lobbies without seat selection are also available at some sites already but this will now become compulsory for any poker room that wants to host German players.

The €1,000 deposit limit and the stricter table limits will have a much more profound effect on German Poker pros. Due to Germany's already tough tax laws most professionals have long since relocated to more gambling positive countries. The few that do remain however will now likely join them in moving abroad to find a country that is more suitable for a gambling professional.

More casual players may not have that option. They will surely find these new laws and legislation very limiting and will definitely affect the amount of action that any single player can be involved in.

Additionally, players will have to fulfill additional KYC verification requirements, such as providing copies of utility bills or confirming identity via webcam.


What are the Operators Doing?

Casinos have rushed to get in line, having been put in a tough spot with the legislation details dropping just weeks before the Oct. 15 deadline. Many will be moving their German players to specific German only clients that adhere to the features listed above.

Operators that don’t comply with the tolerance policy, could face prohibition and payment blocking orders with the risk that operators may not be able to get licensed within Ger. And for most online gambling operators, being denied access to one of the largest European markets is not part of their future plans

Here's what some of the operators have responded with recently:

partypoker

Players will be migrated to a new client. PokerNews contributor and German native Christian Zetzsche reported players have been offered tournament tickets in return for completing additional KYC verification if they had completed it before Oct. 15.

PokerStars

German players who are participating in the segregated PokerStars Europe network, which has a fraction of the player pool of the main network, will see their accounts closed. The Spanish license allowed players from outside the ring-fenced locales of France, Spain and Portugal to participate, but that loophole will apparently be closed for the Germans from now on.

Player-to-player transfers have also reportedly been removed.

Ladbrokes and Betfair

They have reportedly exited the market, according to a poster on TwoPlusTwo who had received separate emails from both companies advising that they "will not offer any gaming in Germany anymore from October 15".

GGPoker

GGPoker has released a manifesto of upcoming changes for German players. They're requiring some additional verification documents and adhering to the posted requirements from the German government.

Players on the Natural8 client will be moved to the GG client and lose access to some Natural8 promotions, according to an email sent to players.

888poker

888poker will move players to a Germany specific client on Nov. 2. They've released a FAQ detailing the changes but promise "a new range of payment methods and even better promotions."

Unibet

Unibet players will no longer be able to access the desktop client, but instead will be using a web client that will comply with the regulations.

"We're working on making the desktop client compliant but can't say when it will happen," a company rep wrote.

Run It Once

Run It Once has temporarily left the market with no news regarding their return.


More Stringent Regulations Down the Line?

While the four-table limit might seem to make it tough to multi-table, it will certainly be difficult to enforce since players could presumably play four tables at several poker rooms at once. Some poker rooms however, have already specified that it won't be possible to use more than one Poker clent at a time.

There is already speculation that operators will be required to pool all of their operations and references into a central database. This means that they would be able to be cross-check it and impose the relevant limits.

However, it's unknown if such a system would comply with European data protection laws, so it may wind up being unfeasible. Both a German player discussing the issue with PRO's Nick Jones and several posters on TwoPlusTwo seemed to think that the data protection laws would prevent that from happening.

Furthermore, PRO reported that the €1,000 monthly deposit limit is "less restrictive" than what's coming with the full implementation of the regulations next July.

We can't say for sure what will happen in the future but you can be sure to find all the news here first at RakeTheRake.

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