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Germany’s new gaming regulator, the Gemeinsame Glücksspielbehörde der Länder (GGL), has defended the country’s licensing progress and pledged to communicate with the industry as it begins work today (1 July).

The authority will initially focus only on fighting illegal gambling and advertising via IP and payment blocking before becoming fully operational on 1 January 2023.

The iGaming industry has repeatedly criticised the conditions imposed by Germany’s Fourth Interstate Treaty of Gambling, describing the law as overly restrictive when it comes to deposit limits and product offerings, as well as advertising and affiliate marketing.

In recent weeks, operators also pointed out that there had been little progress on the issuing of licensing.

In response to questions sent by iGamingNEXT, the GGL said it had been engaged in intensive talks with stakeholders and associations throughout the past year to better understand their positions, and it wants to continue to engage in dialogue with the industry.

For the next six months, the authority will work hand-in-hand with various federal states and their respective gambling supervisory authorities. However, the GGL has already recruited 50% of the 110-employee strong workforce that it aims to have in place by 2023.

Some staff members are initially employed by the state administration office of Saxony-Anhalt, which is currently responsible for the licensing of online poker and virtual slot machines. These experts are expected to be transferred to the GGL by January 2023 at the latest, the GGL said.

To date, three providers of virtual slot games have made it onto the so-called white-list of the state administration office in Saxony-Anhalt. Gauselmann’s subsidiary Mernov was approved in May and was joined by Tipwin and Mybet in June 2022.

The state administration office revealed yesterday (30 June) that nine more licences have been approved, although the operators have not been named.

In total, operators submitted 71 licences since the introduction of the Fourth Interstate Treaty on 1 July 2021. Eight applications were withdrawn, three are still under discussion and one has been rejected, while the remaining applications are still under review.

The GGL said it expects all pending applications to be processed by the end of this year.

The GGL highlighted – in consultation with the responsible state administration office – that permits are processed and granted as quickly as possible if the application documents are complete.

Some operators, however, submitted incomplete applications, the GGL said.

Operators are also obliged to join the LUGAS gaming supervision system, which aims to ensure that websites abide by deposit limits and prevents players from using multiple websites to circumvent the limits.

Under Germany’s gambling law, a player must set an initial monthly deposit limit of €1,000 when first registering with a website.

According to the GGL, many operators are still to connect their systems to LUGAS, which has delayed the granting of permits.

The gambling industry had raised concerns over data protection when LUGAS was first introduced.

In further comments on the licensing process, the GGL explained that once applications are complete, they have to be presented to the gaming board along with a recommendation either to approve or reject an application.

The gaming board’s decisions require a two-thirds majority vote, which cannot always be achieved in a single session, the GGL said.

In addition, the GGL stated it is not concerned that operators will withdraw from Germany following Kindred Group’s decision to exit the market.

In response to a question from iGaming NEXT, the authority said the current applications show that major players on the market are willing to implement, and have no problems in complying with, the strict requirements of the Interstate Treaty.

The GGL, however, also said it recognised the need for attractive framework conditions in order to successfully regulate the gaming market.

According to the GGL, this aspect will play a key role in the next evaluation of the Interstate Treaty on Gambling.

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