Unibet Poker recently announced plans to leave the German poker market. Players will no longer have access to most of the site’s offerings, including cash games and sit-n-gos beginning July 1, 2021. Unibet Poker’s decision to withdraw from Germany stems from recent changes to the country’s tax laws.
Germany is set to enforce its new “State Treaty on Gambling” on July 1, after all 16 state parliaments ratified the legislation. Sachsen-Anhalt was the last state to give its approval to the new treaty, paving the way for its July 1 implementation.
Under the new law, a 5.3% rollover tax will be imposed on both online slots and online poker. The high tax rate represents over half of poker’s net revenue, something which the gambling industry has described as “prohibitive“. The German Bundesrat initially came up with a proposed rate of 8%. Had they decided to stick to that proposal, it would have made it impossible for any operator to enter the country’s gambling market.
Leading gambling industry groups, such as the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), called on the country’s Federal Council to reconsider the move, as it will greatly impact plans for a regulated German online poker scene, but concerns have fallen on deaf ears.
The EGBA previously warned that changes to the country’s tax laws will do more harm than good, and will only help the illegal market to flourish as customers will be forced to play at unregulated sites. The EGBA also pointed out that the new taxation scheme itself breaches European Union law, stating that online operators are being hit with excessively higher rates compared to their land-based counterparts.
Unibet Decision Still Subject To Change
Starting July 1, German players will be restricted from playing cash games and SNGs at Unibet Poker, but multi-table tournaments, as well as Hexapros, the site’s popular tournament jackpot variant, will still be available. The site has decided to resume its MTT offerings for now despite the newly imposed tax, though it also warned that it might also be forced to terminate them.
Unibet will also terminate its loyalty program, meaning players will no longer be able to earn rewards. They have been advised to use their remaining tickets and bonuses before the indicated date. However, the site said the decision to pull out from Germany isn’t final yet as it could still change, depending on any developments with regards to the country’s new tax scheme before July 1.