German State of Thuringia Seeks iGaming Monopoly

Posted on: November 23, 2021, 09:35h. 

Last updated on: November 23, 2021, 10:52h.

A small state in Germany has big ambitions for its iGaming market. Thuringia, home to around 2.1 million inhabitants, is putting forward legislation that would give it autonomous control over iGaming within its borders.

Lotto Thüringen
The staff of Lotto Thüringen in Thuringia, Germany, pose for a photo above. The company could soon operate an iGaming monopoly in the state. (Image: Lotto Thüringen)

If approved, Lotto Thüringen, would become the sole iGaming operator of many online gaming options in the state. The company currently owns the state-run lottery.

In the country, each state runs its own gambling laws. A new amendment would give the state lottery overall control of casino activity in their state. However, only Thuringia and one other German state have proposed their own version of these rules.

Thuringia is located in central Germany and is one of the smaller states in the country.

New Era Of Gaming

The country’s newly-regulated iGaming market launched earlier this year. The new Interstate Treaty on Gambling was meant to crack down on offshore gaming and improve the tax revenue the state and federal governments received from gambling.

The treaty was designed to put all the states’ gaming activity under one umbrella overseen by a new regulator, Glücksspielneuregulierungstaatsverag (yes, this is a real word).

Recently, Thuringia’s parliament recently signed off on the “fifth act” to its Thuringian Casino Act. This act helps combine gambling under one state control entity and could pave the way for Lotto Thüringen to control iGaming in the state.

The act creates a monopoly controller, meaning one company would own all gaming in the state. That company would then have the authority to regulate online versions of games such as blackjack, baccarat, and roulette, while others, including slot machines and poker, would still be governed by the provisions laid out in the Interstate Treaty on Gambling.

While, in theory, the license could be given to another state-run entity, Lotto Thüringen is viewed as the most likely recipient.

Parliament believes this option is the best way to protect players and reduce illegal online gaming.

The amendment will now be sent to the European Commission. If it approves, the legislation will return to Thuringia’s parliament to be enacted.

Gaming Monopolies Problems

However, Germany has come under fire for state gaming monopolies in the past.

In 2010, European judges ruled that German gambling laws in place at that time, which protected state monopolies, were not “justifiable.”

The European Court of Justice stated that the “public monopoly of the organization of sporting bets and lotteries in Germany does not pursue the objective of combating the dangers of gambling in a consistent and systematic manner.”

The European Gaming and Betting Association has also repeatedly produced evidence that monopolies are counterproductive. Last year, it found that Finland’s gaming monopoly had a problem gambling rate of around 3%. This is much higher than the 0.3% in Spain, which has a more open and flexible market.