Entain, the parent company of Partypoker, BetMGM, and other major online gambling sites, has been granted poker licenses in Germany.
This week’s announcement means Entain can now offer online poker in Germany via Bwin and Ladbrokes. The regulatory approval also means the two poker sites can offer casino gaming alongside another Entain site, Sportingbet.
Bwin and Ladbrokes will operate in tandem with Partypoker to give Entain three online poker sites in Germany.
Entain enters German online poker market
The German online poker market has gone through a long and, not always smooth, transition over the last decade. Online gambling wasn’t illegal in Germany prior to 2008. However, as countries in Europe began implementing their own regulations, things began to change.
Various treaties designed to legalize online poker and gambling came and went. None were solid enough to stick and, in 2011, various states, including Schleswig-Holstein, created their own licensing system.
This gave operators such as Partypoker and PokerStars the ability to continue offering their services in Germany. By 2018, new plans to unite all of Germany’s states under one regulatory system were introduced. It took until 2020 for the first licenses to be provisionally approved.
Bwin, Sportingbet, and Ladbrokes were among the initial cohort and they only offered sports betting to start with. Now, with the green light to add poker and casino gaming to its products, Entain will enter a new phase in its German adventure.
Taxing issue for Entain et al
However, like all online poker sites in Germany, tax will be an issue for Bwin and Ladbrokes. A rollover tax of 5.3% was introduced in 2021 as part of Germany’s evolving online poker regulations. Partypoker and other operators were forced to restrict the games customers could access.
Restricting access to certain games is necessary because, due to the rollover tax, they wouldn’t be profitable. The positive is that online poker is still available in Germany, albeit in a limited capacity compared to other regulated markets.
The other positive for locals is that Entain will launch localized versions of Bwin and Ladbrokes poker in the coming weeks.
“We’re delighted to now have our licenses for gaming and poker services in the regulated German market. Only through such regulation and its enforcement will we avoid the reality of customers going to the black market where there are none of the safeguards that reputable operators such as Entain guarantee,” said Entain’s Chief Governance Officer, Robert Hoskin.