German regulator asks ISPs to voluntarily block illegal websites

The German regulator, GGL (Glücksspielbehörde) assumed responsibility for enforcement against unlicensed gambling on July 1, before taking control of all aspects of regulation in Germany on January 1, 2023.

Last month it revealed the first details of its action plans, promising to use payment and (IP) address blocking to prevent unlicensed companies from placing bets.

In a letter to all ISPs (Internet Service Providers) active in Germany, the GGL has now said that while ISPs are not required to block websites after the regulator makes such a request, it would help to prevent illegal websites from offering gambling in the country and would provide greater consumer protection.

Last week, the GGL issued its first blocking order against Lottoland, the lottery betting operator, asking internet service providers to block access to the site which it says offers gambling illegal for several years.

“The GGL seeks a cooperative approach with discussions at ground level,” the GGL said. “This does not mean that a provider must perform blocking ‘on demand’, but that the GGL explains the legal basis from which the ISP’s obligation arises, as well as the previous action against the provider of illegal games .

“Of course, ISPs are free to refuse this offer and only act within the framework of a formal administrative procedure. This administrative act may be subject to judicial review.

“If the ISP does not comply with the formal request to block an illegal gambling offer from the network, the GGL may impose a fine, also based on the recipient’s economic capacity, and may amount to €500,000 (425,201 £/$508,349).”

The German Gambling Treaty (GlüNeuRStv), which came into force in July last year, allowed network blocking and IP blocking of illegal gambling sites to be enforced in case these operators failed to comply. not to requests. to cease operating in the country.

GGL has acknowledged that these blocking requests represent a violation of the fundamental rights of suppliers, suppliers and users. However, he also said that these orders did not violate any European freedom of service and establishment regulations, and were also part of his mission to protect consumers from harm caused by gambling.

“GGL’s social mission is to fight against illegal gambling in order to protect players and minors from gambling, gambling addiction and gambling manipulation,” said GGL. “In this context, according to our review, these interventions are justified and therefore authorized. They meet the proportionality requirements.

“We also take into account relevant European regulations, in particular freedom of service and freedom of establishment and net neutrality requirements. Here we also come to the conclusion that these are not violated by blocking illegal offers.