The German state of Thuringia has fulfilled its mission. It wanted to have a monopoly on its online casino operations, which is official as of last week.
After Germany revised its outdated gambling laws last year, there was a chance for federated states across the country to explore robust online gaming markets. In some states, though, leaders decided to head in the opposite direction.
Instead of opening up their iGaming activity to licensed operators, some monopolies are arriving in Germany. Thuringia is the latest, following approval of the state’s own casino legislation last week.
In the future, the state will be able to organize online casino games and will have a monopoly in Thuringia. This is the core of an amendment to the Thuringian Casino Act (ThürSpbkG), which the state parliament passed by a majority on March 17, 2022, in a third consultation.
Thuringia Opts Against Strong iGaming Regime
Parliament is thus implementing provisions from the State Treaty on Gambling 2021 (GlüStV 2021), which contain regulations on online casino gaming. It did not use the alternative possible under the GlüStV 2021, which allowed for the awarding of gaming concessions. With that final vote in the state parliament, the ThürSpbkG becomes the “Thuringian Law on Casino and Online Casino” (ThürSpbkOCG).
The Thuringia Landtag, the state’s government, already concluded the substantive debate on the amendment with the second consultation on November 18 of last year. Subsequently, it forwarded its intentions to enact the law to the European Commission. This notification satisfies the procedure under EU Directive 2015/1535, which is a necessary step between the second and third consultations.
Thuringia has opted for the state monopoly, which is also practiced in other federal states. It argues that this will allow it to implement the protection of minors and players as effectively as possible and to ward off manipulation risks.
However, the opposite may be true. Monopolies have no reason to innovate or offer additional competitive measures to users. As a result, more users turn to black-market options. Markets that incorporate licensed operations offer greater controls and improved oversight, since regulators can monitor the activity. This can’t be done when consumers use offshore sites.
Ministry of Finance to Run iGaming Ops
The Thuringian Ministry of the Interior and Municipal Affairs, as the ministry currently responsible for casino management, can grant permission to operate the online casino games. The state Ministry of Finance is able to apply because the profits from the game operation flow into the state budget.
Legally, the state can commission an institution or company to operate the online casino games. These entities can be legal entities under private or public law. However, it must be completely in the hands of the country.
For example, the Thuringian State Lottery, a state-owned institution under public law, comes into question. But other solutions are also conceivable.
In any case, strict conditions are in place for the issuance of a permit and are detailed in the ThürSpbkOCG. In addition to the operation of the games, it is also about preventing or remedying gambling addiction and ensuring the protection of minors and players. To that end, the new ThürSpbkG includes restrictions on advertising, as well as the ability to ban players.