German Betting and Casino History
By Reno Rollins
During the 19th and 20th centuries, gambling in Germany took a dip in popularity as the centralization of power began to occur.
Before this time, gambling was regulated by dozens of different state authorities, which sometimes wrote broad betting laws. Despite rapid industrial growth, devastating wars and the subsequent partition of the country left the German gaming industry to flounder throughout most of the 1900's.
The fortunes of gambling took a turn for the better in 2000, though, as the gambling industry began to experience a period of unprecedented growth. Since that time, the state has attempted to maintain a firm hold on gambling, while outside interests have continually looked for access to this lucrative European market.
Gambling Laws in Germany
Gambling is legal in Germany, although the state has held a monopoly on the industry in recent years. With the support of the European Union, however, it appears more and more likely that private companies will soon be allowed to participate in the market.
In March of 2006, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that the German sports betting monopoly was in breach of the German constitution. They were given until December 31st, 2007 to re-organize and come into compliance.
With such rulings going against the state, and continual pressure from the European Union, many industry experts believe that German gambling will be liberalized by 2012 (the year in which the current state treaty expires).
Germany is broken up into 16 states. Gambling is legal in all states. These include:
Casinos in Germany
The first legal casino in the world opened in Baden, Germany in 1765. The next, Kurhaus Baden-Baden opened in the early 1824. Since that time, the number of casinos in Germany has continued to grow.
Most casinos have some manner of dress code, so don’t expect to get in wearing blue jeans or sandals. Casinos such as Spielbank Baden-Baden and Casino Berlin require a tie. You must be at least 18 years old to gamble, and you’ll be asked to provide proof of your age. At some casinos, you may also be charged an entrance fee or asked to sign a debt guarantee note.
Most casinos will have between 75 and 150 slot machines, while table games will include Blackjack, Baccarat, American Roulette, German Roulette, French Roulette and Poker.
The city of Hamburg has the most casinos, while the largest casino in the country is located in Dortmund (Casino Hohensyburg). It boasts over 40 table games and 270 slot and video poker machines.
Casinos in Germany include:
- Casino Aachen (Aachen)
Cruise Ship Gambling in Germany
In addition to casinos, gambling is also offered on cruise ships. The most notable of these are A’ROSA-A’ROSA BLU out of Neu-Isenburg and AIDA Diva out of Rostock.
Horse Racing in Germany
Horse racing has a long, storied history in Germany, and a large number of tracks can be found across the country. Horse racing can be enjoyed in such cities as Dresden, Bremen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Leipzig, Munster, Waldorf, Baden-Baden and many others.
Two of Germany’s most famous racetracks are the Bad Doberan Racecourse and Bad Harzburg. All total, the country has over 50 tracks.
Poker in Germany
Poker has experienced a major upturn in Germany, and many experts agree that online poker sites have the greatest potential for growth within the German market. The most popular forms of poker are Texas Holdem and No Limit Holdem. Other noted variations include 7 Card Stud Poker and Omaha.
Germany is also a stop for numerous well-known poker tours. The country has played host to the Everest Poker European Championship (with a prize pool of 50,000 Euros) and the European Poker Tour, among others.
Lottery in Germany
Run by the state, the German lottery has been around for many years. They offer sizable jackpots, as evidenced by a male nurse winning $47.4 million dollars in 2006.
Bingo in the German Republic
In the 1800s, bingo was used for educational purposes in Germany. Children would learn to spell and do math while playing the game. In modern times, it’s even more popular, and bingo still functions as an excellent draw for charity fundraisers.
Sports Betting and Online Gambling in Germany
Only state-owned companies have been allowed to offer sports betting in Germany, but that may be changing in the future. Private companies are eager to break up the monopoly, and the Internet is a prime target with which to do so.
In 2005, Germans bet a total of $2 billion on sports. While the state has tried to keep out other online businesses, a company known as “betandwin” (or Bwin) has been particularly successful. This is due to the fact that they don’t have to pay taxes in Germany (being based outside the country), and so they can offer better odds than the state-run sportsbook.
The state’s betting provider is Oddset, and Bwin has had a noticeable effect on their business. In 2002, Oddset brought in $540 million in bets. This dropped to $430 million by 2005.
So the German government sought to ban betandwin from doing business with German citizens. This move was opposed by the European Union, and the Administrative Court of Appeal ruled in favor of Bwin Interactive in November of 2007.
Experts agree that this is another step in the right direction for opening Germany up to outside gambling companies and the ultimate liberalization of the industry.
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