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Gemeinsame Glücksspielbehörde der Länder, Germany’s gambling regulator, has received approval to enforce rules and penalties on advertising, specifically the protection of players and minors.

The Higher Administrative Court of the State of Saxony-Anhalt was tasked with reviewing “ancillary provisions” in response to receiving complaints regarding advertising rules for online slots and poker.

The court ruled the GGL can enforce “bans on continuous advertising broadcasts, advertising for free online casino games and virtual slot machine games, influencer marketing, advertising by streamers and affiliate advertising with partners who also advertise illegal gambling”.

It was also stated that “the complete ban on advertising in public spaces (eg on billboards, advertising pillars and on local public transport vehicles) is likely to be disproportionate”.

The court also remarked that the protection of minors from advertising “could be complied with by time limits” – deemed “technically possible, especially in the case of digital, controllable outdoor advertising”. 

“It is also likely to be inadmissible to prohibit advertising for virtual slot machine games and online poker at public film events before 21:00 p.m., even if they are film events aimed exclusively at adults,” the court added.

In a statement, the GGL said: “As in the area of legal gambling, the GGL has also been successful in combating illegal gambling. In urgent legal protection proceedings, the Halle Administrative Court confirmed the legality of a prohibition order issued by GGL against a provider of unauthorised gambling on the internet.

“According to the State Treaty on Gambling 2021, public gambling is prohibited in Germany without a permit and can be prohibited. The reservation of permission is compatible with provisions of European law because it serves the legitimate objectives of the protection of minors and players as well as the fight against crime, which are legitimate under EU law.”

German gambling continues to be fragmented on its advertising laws, as Saxony Anhalt’s ruling contrasts with a decision by the Administrative Court of Hamburg, which stated that the prohibition on influencer marketing held no legal grounds for enforcement.

As the federal authority for German gambling, GGL has sided with Saxony-Anhalt’s interpretation of advertising laws as the definitive judgement on the matter. However, German operators maintain that the advertising laws of the GlüNeuRStv remain unworkable and in favour of the black market targeting national consumers.

Gambling trade bodies have urged for an immediate review of advertising rules granted to the GGL, or for a ‘Bundestag intervention in order for Germany to adopt a federal advertising code for gambling.