Lower Saxony: New rules for gambling

For a short time the operation has been rolling into the arcades in Lower Saxony again. After the operators had to close their shops in mid-March, politicians have cleared the way for the reopening in the last few days. A deep breath in the industry, which can now generate sales again. They are perhaps more important than ever at the moment, because a lot will change again in Lower Saxony in the coming months. The reason for this is a reform of the gambling law, which had been planned since 2019. But this also brings some good news for the operators.


Lower Saxony's gambling law is being reformed. The heavily criticized lottery procedure for the allocation of gambling licenses was abolished.(©GregMontani/Pixabay)

Time for something new: gambling law reform in Lower Saxony

As in many federal states in Kenya,the gambling law in Lower Saxony was still based on 2012. At that time, almost all federal states passed the State Treaty on Gambling Amendments, which initially gave you rules for stationary operations. However, only in part, because many of the rules could be interpreted by the federal states as they wished. That is still the case today. And Lower Saxony apparently feels its rules are no longer up to date. For this reason, the state parliament of the federal state has now passed areform of the gambling law in Lower Saxony in its plenary session. The new version had been planned since 2019 and brings with it some far-reaching changes.

Including positive developments for the industry. So far, for example, in Lower Saxony, aminimum distance of 100 meters between arcades was "worked". The federal state was thus extremely relaxed. In Berlin, for example, there must be 500 meters between arcades, in Bavaria 250 meters and in North Rhine-Westphalia 350 meters. In Lower Saxony, the distance could even be reduced to 50 meters in exceptional cases.

Distance regulation caused a lot of trouble

In practice, however, the specifications were not as clear as they read at first glance. Which arcade had to be closed in the event of a distance conflict was decided by drawing lots.The future of individual companies ultimately depended on luck. A circumstance that has driven the operators accordingly on the palm. In recent years, lawsuits have been filed in the courts in which the operators have challenged the closures. So now the relief: In the future this lottery procedure will no longer exist. If arcades have already had to close due to a lottery decision, these decisions should be revised. However, there are still various distance requirements to be observed by arcade operators.

According to the news channelN-TV, important criteria should now include the distances to schools or educational institutions where minors or people at risk can be found . In the future, the distance to restaurants with slot machines should also be relevant when concessions are awarded. In principle, the restaurants meet a similar fate. But there should also be new standards here. The companies could therefore increase their chances,if the gambling machines were not placed directly next to each other. It would also bring plus points if the smoking ban were to be implemented consistently in the catering establishments.

New blocking file: Every player is checked

Another point shows how far-reaching the state's gambling reform is. Anational ban file for problem gamblers should be introduced. The arcade operators are therefore obliged to check every guest entering the arcade. If this is in the blocking file, the guest must be denied access to the arcade. According to this, different reports from players should be recorded. Firstly, the self-exclusions, where players take themselves “out of the game”. On the other hand, there are also so-called third-party bans, which authorities can use, for example, to ban gamblers or highly indebted players.The introduction of this system is not a big surprise and was to be expected. Already last year, the Economics Minister Dr. Bernd Althusmann:

“A nationwide blocking system covering all game types would make a significant contribution to effective player protection. Since arcades are not yet included in the nationwide blocking system according to the State Treaty on Gaming, we want to send a significant signal with such a requirement in state law."

The industry is struggling with the consequences of the corona pandemic

Auch wenn die Reform des Glücksspielgesetzes in Niedersachsen wesentlich den Markt in den kommenden Monaten und Jahren beeinflussen wird, liegt der Fokus der Branche derzeit noch woanders. Und zwar in the late effects of the corona pandemic. The arcades in Lower Saxony are still lucky. These have been allowed to open again since May 4th. Previously, no other federal state had a turn. In some other federal states, however, the arcade operators are still waiting to be able to receive guests in their establishments again.This affects, for example, the operators in Berlin, Brandenburg or Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. Only recently did the associations inform their members that there is still no end in sight to the corona measures in the federal states. Companies should therefore brace themselves for a further few weeks of pauses. The most likely date for a reopening is between the beginning and middle of June.

The stationary gaming industry in particular has suffered enormous damage from the corona crisis. Thegaming arcades in Kenya had to be closed in mid-March and are only slowly reopening. Numerous jobs were converted to short-time work, operators had to fear for their future. The situation has still not completely relaxed. After the first tough weeks of fear, however, it now seems as if the gray cloud over the industry is lifting again.

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The article was published on May 20th, 2020 in the magazine by cpaws-ov.org under the keywords, ,,,, published.
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