June 3, 2020

Visa and Mastercard restricted for German casino players

In an effort to clamp down on the iGaming industry and illegal casino operations in Germany, German players are facing some fresh restrictions. These recent changes affect the way players can deposit and withdraw from the casinos.

Germany heavily restricts their online casino and gaming market. For example, it is illegal to host a gaming site within the country. However, German players can access online casinos that are based outside Germany, as these operators are not bound to the country’s law.

But it seems German authorities are finding other ways to restrict these online casinos.

Last week, German news outlet NDR reported that German-facing online casinos were unable to process Visa payments. Apparently, Visa told German banks not to process any deposits or withdrawals from any online casino that was using a Visa card.

A spokesperson for Visa explained that they contacted their retail banking partners to make sure that “only legal, properly licensed transactions are processed” with its cards.

Mastercard affected too

Since this report, it has come to light that German online casino players have had trouble using Mastercard payment methods to make deposits and withdrawals.

When questioned, the online casinos generally had the same response. They said that Visa and/or Mastercard contacted them to remove their payment methods from their list of options. If they failed to do this, they could risk losing access to Visa and Mastercard in all their operating markets, not just Germany.

Some operators have completely removed the two methods from their sites, but there seems to be some grey area. For example, some casinos have told local players they can use Visa cards to make sport betting deposits only.

History of payment issues

This comes after an incident in April 2020, when the German state of Lower Saxony ordered a payment service provider (name unknown) to stop processing payments related to illegal online gambling.

Even last summer, the state warned another unnamed payment provider about this issue. Many suspect this provider to be PayPal, as they closed its services to German online casino players soon after the warning.

In April, Boris Pistorius, Lower Saxony’s Minister of Interior and Sports, spoke on the issue.

He said to payment services that they were “legally obliged to refrain from making payments in connection with illegal gambling” and that they should “critically review and, if necessary, immediately stop working with companies that practice illegal gambling.”

Changes to the law

Currently, German law (the Third State Treaty on Gambling) forbids online casino and poker activities in Germany.

However, this is a temporary measure until a new law replaces it in 2021. This new law will allow online casino and poker games in Germany, as long as the casinos have the relevant license. There will also still be many restrictions and regulations for online casino operators to face.

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