The German government added to its new online gambling legislation implemented last October, which has caused one of the world’s largest online poker sites to drastically change its offering to players in the country.
The government created a new 5.3% turnover tax. This is in addition to the regulations put in place last fall when it wouldn’t allow German citizens to play more than four tables, deposit more than €1,000 per month on a site, or select their own seats at cash game tables.
According to the PokerStars blog, this tax is levied on buy-ins, meaning that operators will be taxed on how much a player sits with at the table. For every €100 that a German player sits down with, PokerStars will pay €5.30 to the German government.
The new tax took effect July 1 and in response, PokerStars is raising rake and eliminating high-stakes offerings from German players. It should be noted that most of the top German pros already left the country and took up residence elsewhere in the European Union due to unfavorable tax laws on gambling winnings.
German players will be allowed to stay on the main network and play against the “Rest of World” player pool, but will be treated much differently than other players in it.
For cash games, the highest stakes offered to Germans will be no-limit and pot-limit games with blinds of $1-$2 and limit games with $3-$6 limits. The rake for limit games has been increased by 35%, while big bet games saw rake bump of 25%.
This leads to a segregated rake structure. If there is a split pot between a German and a non-German player, the German player will pay more in rake than the other player to compensate for the government’s new tax.
Tournaments will remain largely unaffected by the new policy, but heads-up sit n’ goes, sit n’ go satellites and many hyper turbo sit n’ go formats will no longer be offered. The highest stakes spin & gos will be €50. But it appears that German players should still be able to play the entire slate of multi-table tournaments offered on the site.
The last major change to the site for German players is that when they sit at a table, they must play a certain number of hands before they get up and leave the game. If they do not adhere to this rule, they will be penalized with being unable to return to the table for a certain amount of time.
The Stars Rewards program will be slightly devalued for Germans and they will have to go through stricter verification processes when making withdrawals.