Germany’s DSWV calls for changes as black market betting grows in 2023

Germany’s DSWV calls for changes as black market betting grows in 2023

 | By Richard Mulligan
Germany’s leading sports betting trade group has reiterated calls for changes to gambling rules as its members lost market share to illegal operators in 2023.

The German Sports Betting Association (DSWV) said its data for 2023 showed a 5.4% decrease in stakes compared to the previous year. A survey it recently commissioned showed that the black market accounts for around 50% of German online gambling activity.

DSWV said the drop in total staked to €7.7bn (€8.3bn/€6.6bn) was due to restrictions on marketing activities imposed by the State Treaty on Gambling, which came into force in 2021. Restrictions, such as a ban on live betting, mean unlicensed operators can offer a more attractive proposition to players.

With sports betting set to surge ahead of Germany staging this year’s UEFA European Championships, DSWV is concerned that restrictions on licensed operators will simply mean more players migrating to the black market. It is therefore calling for action from the from the Joint Gaming Authority of the States (GGL) to realign current regulatory policy. It also opposes calls for a gambling advertising ban.

“An important reason for the decline is the migration of many players to illegal offers. For example, since the State Treaty on Gambling came into force in 2021, regulated providers have been unable to keep up with the extensive betting offers on the black market due to a limited betting programme,” the DSWV said in a statement.

“The association is therefore calling for attractive framework conditions for regulated providers so that they remain competitive.”

Advertising restrictions: a boost for the black market?

The State Treaty on Gambling bans live betting and also wagering on anything other than prescribed sports and horse racing. Bets on esports and non-sports events, such as financial betting or secondary lotteries, are not permitted. Pool betting is reserved for the state monopoly.

Regarding advertising, DSWV believes an all-out ban backed by some will prevent consumers from differentiating between licensed and illicit operators. Draconian rules already imposed include a blackout on online and TV advertising at certain times of the day. Restrictions on displaying sports clips in advertising are also in place.

“Advertising helps to give legal providers appeal so that they stand out from the illegal offers,” the group said. “Players are only protected at companies permitted by the GGL. In the debate about sports betting advertising, the DSWV therefore expressly positions itself against an advertising ban.”

Late last year, a DSWV-commissioned survey revealed “alarming developments” in the German online gambling market. Despite gambling law being designed to boost channelisation, the study found that just 50.7% of play was with licensed operators. The study showed that some 28.9% of play was with unlicensed EU providers and 19.9% with unlicensed offshore providers.

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