Court rules GGL can penalise operators for affiliate violations

By Zak Thomas-Akoo

The Higher Administrative Court of the State of Saxony-Anhalt has confirmed that the German regulator, the Joint Gaming Authority of the Federal States (GGL), has the power to prohibit licensed gambling operators for “deliberately” advertising on affiliate marketing sites featuring illegal offerings.

The court determined as lawful a GGL by-law that stated affiliates which link to illegal games of chance websites are classified as advertising said unlawful activity. The court made clear that this is “incompatible” with the 2021 State Treaty on Gambling Regulation that established the current German regulatory regime.

The court added that the ban is necessary so as to not give the impression that “permitted gambling is of equal importance to illegal gambling”. Legal gaming operators are also required to be responsible for affiliates not advertising these unlicensed sites by not willingly allowing their services to sit beside them on the site.


The Saxony-Anhalt court also confirmed the GGL obligation that affiliate sites must inform users about the German “white list” of permitted operators. Affiliates also must inform potential players about the addiction risks of advertised gambling, ban the participation of underage consumers and make clear the options for independent therapy.

Other GGL regulatory requirements were also confirmed including a ban on igaming sites that advertise themselves as “free of charge”, as well as a more technical ruling that spells out that bonus and discount advertising must clearly state the amount of benefits and the duration of the campaign.

GGL fines operator for affiliate violations  

The case originally concerned a March decision by the regulator to issue an unnamed operator with a five-figure fine for deliberately advertising its services on a site that also linked to illegal offerings.

“We consider these advertising regulations to be very good and justified,” said GGL chief executive Ronald Benter. “The GGL consistently monitors offers from legal operators. In the event of violations, we levy heavy fines.

“The withdrawal of the licence in the event of repeated violations of the provisions of the State Treaty on Gambling Regulation is a measure that we do not shy away from."

Board member Benjamin Schwanke added: “The legal online gambling providers cannot have any interest in advertising on sites that also advertise illegal gambling. This damages the reputation of the operators.”

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