Payment blockings not a solution to flaws in Germany’s online gambling regulation – more fundamental rethink needed

A regional authority in Germany has requested a payment provider to stop processing payments from some online casinos and secondary lottery operators and promised more prohibitive payment blockings in the future.

In the announcement published on Monday, the Lower Saxony Ministry of the Interior and Sports said it had issued a cease-and-desist order against a “large, international payment service provider from participating in payment transactions in connection with illegal gambling in Germany”. The order applies to the entire country thanks to the way in which competencies for gambling regulation are carved up between Germany’s different “lander”, or states, by the interstate treaty. The order can be challenged before the administrative courts.

EGBA believes payment blockings are not a solution to the problems afflicting Germany’s gambling regulation – and a much more fundamental rethink is needed to develop an effective regulatory framework and bring the country’s gambling policies into the 21st century.

“Restrictive or prohibitive measures, such as payment blocking measures, are an attempt to create artificial walls around online markets and can be ineffective and detrimental to player protection.

That’s because online gambling is, like any other online consumer market, consumer-driven and players can easily search around the internet for alternative products, brands or the payment means they prefer.

Trying to limit the options available to players will not change this reality and – by restricting their choices – might be counterproductive because it will push players towards unlicensed or unregulated websites, where they might be exposed to inadequate consumer protections and chances of redress.

A much more fundamental rethink is needed in Germany to bring its online gambling policy up to speed to meet the digital realities of the 21st century. Because right now the regulatory situation is fragmented and way behind the developments in most other European countries.

To remedy this, the German authorities should establish an attractive and modern online gambling regulation which acknowledges that many Germans play online casino games and ensures they – and all other players – can play within a safe and regulated environment.”  – Maarten Haijer, Secretary General.

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