Germany Licenses Online Slots Operator, but Still Has No Casino or Poker

Posted on: May 6, 2022, 07:21h. 

Last updated on: May 6, 2022, 10:11h.

Germany’s online gaming market has its first entry, well after the arrival of the Fourth Interstate Gambling Treaty. A domestic operator will launch the first online slot machine platform, while other gaming options remain off the table.

Reichstag Parliament, Berlin, Germany
The Reichstag Parliament building in Berlin, Germany. The country now has its first online gaming operator, but only slot machines will be available. (Image: Flickr)

The German Ministry of the Interior (MoI) of Saxony-Anhalt has issued the first official license for the operation of online slot machines. According to the State Administration Office’s gaming operator whitelist, updated on May 5, the first licensee is Mernov Betriebsgesellschaft mbH. The entity is a subsidiary of the Gaussman Group gaming company.

In the future, Mernov will offer virtual slot games through its JackpotPiraten and BingBong brands. This marks the first online gaming option in the country, with most operators shying away over expenses and restrictive rules.

Germany Slides Into Online Slots

The MoI had already confirmed in March that it had agreed on a first licensee, according to local media. Which provider received a license, however, remained hidden. Mernov’s website, on the other hand, has been in the starting blocks since last year.

The Gauselmann subsidiary advertises “premium brands for a unique online gaming experience,” as well as “serious gambling entertainment at the highest level.” As can be seen from the still-sparsely populated website, the company is currently still hiring staff to prepare for a launch.

Mernov also hints at which games future customers can expect on the platforms. In addition to an advertising image of the well-known Merkur title Eye of Horus, there is talk of cooperation with the “best-known game developers of the international gambling industry.” However, the in-house Gauselmann slots should be among the first games.

The company already promises a range of games that meets “the strict standards of the Gemeinsamen Glücksspielbehörde der Länder.” That refers to the Joint Gaming Authority (GGL, for its German acronym), the country’s new gaming regulator.

Mernov Not Yet Ready for Launch

The entry on the whitelist itself does not seem to be the starting signal for the legal online slot market. It is currently not possible to play on either of the two licensed websites. BingBong’s website still seems to be in its infancy. Initially, visitors only see “Starting June 2022!”

With the exception of some other information, there is no interactive content yet. A customer registration button is also missing. Upon clicking through the site’s various pages, visitors frequently encounter “Coming soon” messages.

JackpotPiraten, on the other hand, advertises on its young website with a welcome bonus and already gives an insight into the terms and conditions and bonus conditions. The “Registration” and “Login” button is present, but does not yet allow actual registrations.

JackpotPiraten names the State Administration Office of Saxony-Anhalt as the licensor. Whether the active game operation is therefore waiting until the GGL takes over the task of licensing seems unclear.

Closing in on a New Market

As part of this year’s 19th Symposium on Gambling at the University of Hohenheim, GGL board member Ronald Benter gave an update on the authority’s latest schedule in March. The GGL will start fighting illegal online gambling from July of this year. Then, beginning next January, the authority should issue the first online gambling licenses.

When that happens, online gaming operators hope to find a resolution to some issues. For example, the German state of Hesse faces a lawsuit over its implementation of online sports betting laws. In addition, gaming operators are concerned about the restrictive nature of new gaming regulations.

Among these are €1 (US$1.20) stake limits, unreasonable tax commitments and more. These will keep legitimate platforms away, which they say will force more players to use black market gaming options.