Germany approves controversial turnover tax on online slots and poker

Back in March of this year, Germany’s new State Treaty on Gambling (GlüNeuRStv) was approved by lawmakers. Since then, the new regulation has received the approval of all federal states in Germany. Set to come into effect on July 1, the new State Treaty on Gambling would legalize online casino games, but not everyone is excited.
Although the legalization is long-awaited, the new treaty comes with restrictions as well. Under the treaty, a €1 stake limit per spin is introduced for online slots. Furthermore, earlier this week, the Bundestag voted in favor of a stake tax, which already proved to be controversial. The stake tax which is also referred to as turnover tax introduces a 5.3% tax on all online poker and slot stakes. In addition, the tax plans to affect both licensed gambling, as well as unlicensed operators.

Online poker giant PokerStars has announced drastic changes to their poker offering to players based in Germany ahead of the new online gambling law to enter into force on 1 July.
The changes include new restrictions to payment methods, an increased rake to combat the new turnover tax, modification to the Stars Rewards program and perhaps the most significant of all: The removal of higher stakes action for German players.
The new restrictions were made public on June 24 in a blog post on the operator’s website. On the same day, an email notification was sent to all concerned players, labeled as “Important changes to how you play”.
“Laws around online poker in Germany are changing, and as the world’s most trusted poker brand we want to ensure we are fully compliant,” the operator, wrote in a blog post.
“We have had to make a number of adjustments to our games in order to meet the new regulatory and tax obligation in Germany and wanted to update you ahead of time on what you can expect,” the site further wrote.
The changes will come into effect on July 1—the day the country’s new gambling law goes live. The site has assured that the changes affect only players based in Germany.

Whereas Unibet Poker is considering ceasing all cash games, sit & go tournaments, and its loyalty program for Germans, PokerStars is implementing several changes so it can continue offering its services to German residents.
Several online poker sites currently offering services in Germany have followed the lead of Unibet Poker and PokerStars in pulling some of their games from the German market following the July 1 implementation of a rollover tax that operators have declared excessive. Partypoker, the iPoker Network’s Betsson skin, and GGPoker are the latest sites to cut back the games being offered.
Each of these sites made changes to limit their potential liability under the new law, which states that 5.3% of whatever amount a player brings to a given table goes to Germany’s tax coffers as soon as the first card of the first hand is dealt. For multi-table tournaments and some standard sit-and-go’s, that’s no problem, but the fast-changing nature of cash games means a site could be taxed multiples of the 5.3% in certain situations. As a result, virtually all of the affected sites making changes are eliminating higher-stakes cash games as a first priority.

Germany approves controversial turnover tax on online slots and poker

Partypoker’s changes were announced in an email to its German players and apply to its Sit-and-Gos and cash games. For SNGs, Partypoker will add a 5.3% surcharge to its entry fee, and all current stakes and games will remain available. (For multi-table tournaments, Party plans to incur the 5.3% tax itself, for the time being.)
For Party’s high-stakes and “Fastforward” cash games, stakes from $2/$5 and higher will no longer be offered to German players.
Party described its changes as “the most player-friendly way to implement this legally required change.” The company added, “The online gaming market in Germany will change permanently due to the new legal framework. Nevertheless, we try to meet our obligation as one of the leading providers and therefore have to make the following adjustments.”

At the iPoker Network, individual rooms are free to make their own decisions, but one of the network’s largest German sites, Betsson, has decided to leave the country in its entirety. Betsson’s decision to drop its online poker services is due not only to the new rollover tax, but also to changes in the way affiliates can be paid due to changes in Germany’s online gambling rules.
Betsson notified all of its affiliates that it is placing continuing payments on hold while exploring their legality, and the site is also exploring obtaining a land-based casino license in Germany. Regarding its German online poker services, however, Betsson left no ambiguity:
“Unfortunately,” the site wrote, “we will also have to inform you of the closure of our poker product in the German market, due to the new turnover tax of 5.3%. We will review the viability of offering poker to our German customers in the future.”

GGPoker announced its initial changes in an email sent to its players on June 30. These consist of the following: GGPoker will no longer offer VIP cash games, including AoF (All-in or Fold) Featured Tables; and GGPoker will no longer offer tournaments in the “High Roller” category, including satellites for these events;
The platform’s “Move Table” function has been temporarily suspended.
Further changes may be coming. The site’s email noted, “We are working to keep the impact on the players and the ecology as low as possible and will announce our solution in a separate communication in mid-July.”
GGPoker also admonished Germany’s regulators and politicians for creating and implementing a poorly conceived tax.

Germany approves controversial turnover tax on online slots and poker
Source: cardschat

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