The German gambling market is beginning to see the negative effects of its new State Treaty on Gambling, with prominent online poker site Unibet Poker announcing a partial exit from the country.
Unibet Poker Terminates Cash Games & SNGs
Beginning July 1, Unibet Poker will terminate its cash games and sit-n-go offerings for its German customers, as a result of the implementation of the country’s new tax law. Local players will still have access to Unibet Poker’s MTTs and popular jackpot-tournament variant Hexapros, but it did not discount the possibility of also pulling them out, if things become unbearable.
Unibet Poker will also put an end to its loyalty program. The site has urged all of its German players to use their tickets and earned bonuses, and for those who are unable to utilize their rewards, they will be converted to cash, and players will be given enough time to cash out their balances. From July 1, players will no longer earn new rewards or bonus points at Unibet Poker.
However, the site also stated that the decision to stop offering cash games and SNGs to German players could still be reversed, if there are positive developments in relation to the new tax law.
The operator also said it will not be closing any German accounts, meaning players will still be able to enjoy the remaining poker offerings at the site.
Germany Pushes For New Tax Scheme  
Germany’s new gambling treaty will be imposed on July 1 after obtaining approval from all 16 states. The new law includes changes to the country’s gambling tax scheme which will see both online slots and online poker being slapped with a 5.3% rollover tax. While that rate is down from the originally proposed rate of 8%, it’s still “prohibitively high” according to industry groups.
The current rate of 5.3% equates to more than half of online poker’s net revenue in the country, which will make the sector totally unsustainable and unattractive for new operators. Similarly, existing online gambling entities will also be forced to leave the country, considering the excessive tax rates imposed on them.
A number of lobbying groups from the gambling industry, including the Brussels-based European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), earlier this month raised a red flag on the tax proposal, saying it would severely affect the country’s online gaming market.
The EGBA argued that Germany’s new tax scheme violates the European Union State Aid rules as it would put land-based operators at an unfair advantage. The organization said that in the state of Bavaria alone, land-based operators would enjoy a tax advantage of as high as €290 million each year.
Moreover, the punitive rates would only result in more German players using unlicensed sites. This, according to the EGBA, would contradict the country’s key objective of driving local customers into a regulated online gaming market.
But the German Bundesrat was undeterred by the warning, and decided to push through with the proposal. Other regulations included in the new law are table and deposit caps, stricter KYC requirements, as well as changes to the seating system, which will likely push away more professional players.
The country’s existing tax laws have seen a number of local pros relocating to other jurisdictions in search for greener pastures. The new treaty will only make the situation worse for the remaining German pros.
Bad Blow To Online Poker Operators
As to the impact of the new law on online poker operators, Unibet Poker has become the latest casualty of the new tax regime, and more operators are expected to also limit their operations or leave the country altogether as a result. Ladbrokes, Betfair, and Redbet already exited the German market as early as October 2020.
Major operators like PokerStars, partypoker, GGNetwork, and 888poker have since introduced changes to their operations, requiring additional KYC documents and moving players to specific clients. Some German accounts have also been reportedly closed.

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