Contrasting Gambling Regulations in Germany and the UK – about the biggest markets in Europe
Europe has the largest global share of the online gambling market, accounting for more than 46% in 2022, according to the Online Gambling Global Market Report 2023 by Research and Markets. The UK online gambling market is the largest in Europe, accounting for over 30% of total online gambling revenue. Germany is the second largest gambling market in Europe after the UK. Both countries have witnessed remarkable growth in their respective gambling industries, prompting governments to initiate reforms to safeguard society from potential risks associated with gambling.
German affiliate Casinospot.de, part of the HraiGamble Group, has studied the regulatory policies of the two largest European markets to understand the peculiarities of the development of local gambling markets.
Recently, both the German and British governments have initiated a number of reforms in the gambling industry that should limit the impact on society. This is primarily due to the development of the industry, as more and more European citizens are involved in gambling and we need to be prepared for the fact that more rules will be introduced by the states in the future.
According to Statista, the German online gambling market is expected to reach €4.80 billion in 2023, with a CAGR of 7.54%, leading to a projected market size of €6.42 billion by 2027. The UK market is projected to reach €12.05 billion in revenue, or more than 62% CAGR in four years.
In their efforts to regulate the gambling industry, the UK and German governments have taken differing approaches.
The key regulator of gambling in the UK is the Gambling Commission, and it is very different from the regulator in Germany. There are several pieces of legislation in the UK that relate to gambling, but the main provisions are set out on the Gambling Commission’s website and in the Gambling Act 2005. The Gambling Commission added new rules in September 2022, but these only apply to high-risk groups, so these rules do not have a significant impact on the UK online gambling market. A more significant development is that in April 2023, after a three-year delay, the official UK gambling document was published. In 2020, Boris Johnson, who was the Prime Minister at the time, launched a review of the UK gambling market to further initiate reforms. The UK government plans to work with the Gambling Commission to implement the changes outlined in this document, but all measures are expected to come into force by summer 2024.
In contrast, Germany already adopted stricter measures, prohibiting gambling advertising on TV, radio, and online platforms, and introducing laws governing targeted and direct advertising. Moreover, German laws impose a €1,000 monthly cash deposit limit for players, promoting responsible gambling habits.
According to The Guardian, more than half of Britons and Germans support the ban on gambling advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, with the UK still taking a more liberal approach compared to Germany – advertising is banned only for minors.
There are many different laws and regulations in the UK relating to gambling. These include key points such as fraud prevention, underage gambling, player knowledge, money laundering checks, restrictions on advertising operators, and much more. Some UK online gambling regulations provide benefits to operators, while others restrict their freedom. The British governments are of the opinion that too harsh repression may drive players towards illegal gambling sources, complicating the goal of responsible regulation. Some government officials proclaim that the gambling industry creates jobs and pays money into the economy. No one wants to destroy the market, but it needs to be changed to make it more accountable and generate less obscene profits.
The UK’s proposed mandatory tax on the industry, betting limits, and bonus restrictions indicate a commitment to change. Critics who do not support the British government’s gambling policy believe that the authorities are late with these initiatives. It should not have taken so long since the start of the online revolution for regulation to enter the modern world of gambling. According to the Gambling Commission, 44% of Britons aged 16 and over are now gamblers, and 27% participate in online gambling. That’s roughly 30 million gamblers, with the majority of this number concentrated in the under-50s.
In terms of regulation, both countries face challenges due to fragmented regulatory bodies. There are different views on regulation within the UK Conservative Party: some members of the Conservative Party are fundamentally sceptical of regulation, arguing that people should always be free to do what they want with their money, while others support oversight but want it to be focused on problem gamblers and children in particular.
Meanwhile, in Germany, disagreements between the federal states have delayed reforms. For a long time, the states could not come to an agreement on online gambling, so the huge German gambling market was in a grey area. At times, there were licences that were valid only in Schleswig-Holstein, as if players and the Internet remained on the borders of the federal states. Currently, different federal states are responsible depending on the type of gambling. The establishment of the German State Gambling Authority (GGL) in 2023 aims to harmonise the regulatory landscape and protect players from addiction and manipulation.
As we can see, the UK, with a more liberal stance on gambling regulation, is now one of the leading markets, second only to the USA.
And although Germany has introduced stricter gambling regulations, it has not been able to ensure compliance by citizens and investors. In the age of the Internet and technology, attempts to strictly limit or ban online gambling are difficult. For example, given that the ban on advertising only applies in Germany, gambling companies can reach German players through advertising in other countries or through social media and other online channels that are not specifically targeted at the German market.
Casinospot.de acknowledges the importance of regulation in ensuring the safety of all stakeholders. However, it advocates considering each country’s unique economic and cultural factors to develop effective policies. Proper regulation is essential, as the burgeoning online gambling market can have wide-ranging impacts on society. Ensuring fraud prevention, combating underage gambling, and promoting responsible gaming are crucial elements of effective gambling regulation.
Online gambling continues to grow exponentially, and big unregulated markets can lead to global societal problems. Responsible regulation is the key to strike a balance between the industry’s economic potential and protecting vulnerable groups from harm.