Gambling is no longer something that happens in run-down buildings that are forced to congregate in a particular area of the city. Thanks to iGaming, you can play any game you want on sites like https://vulkanvegas.com/ca from anywhere in the world at any time. It’s also a very profitable industry: in 2023, it had a size of more than $230 billion. These high-profit rates and the potential offered are also making governments more and more interested in iGaming: Controlling this industry can generate incredible revenue.
We see one of the most recent examples of this in Thuringia: This small German state has recently passed a resolution legalizing iGaming but tying it to a state monopoly. This decision will prevent private operators from entering the market. This is a trend we see more and more often as other states are choosing to legalize iGaming in a way that can only be controlled by the government. So, what does this mean for the future of the industry? Can legal but state-controlled gambling give players an advantage? We answer these questions below.
What Happened in Thuringia?
Thuringia is the name of a small state in Germany, and you’ve probably never heard of it before. This is not surprising, as this is a small state with only 2 million inhabitants and has no historical significance apart from a few old forts. The reason why Thuringia suddenly started to be talked about is the decision it took a short time ago about legal gambling. The state’s law of 2004 was changed, and it was decided that table games can be legally offered online only by “Lotto Thuringia”. This is an institution fully controlled by the state government. So, this decision means a monopoly for online table games.
Germany follows the example of Canada in legal gambling: Although gambling is problematic at the federal level, the states can make their own laws and make it legal. Thuringia had already legalized online slot machines and allowed private operators to obtain a license for them. The last decision it made also legalizes online table games but says that the relevant license can only be given to Lotto Thuringia.
The state claims that this decision was made to protect players: According to the government’s statement, table games are more open to manipulation and therefore need to be more tightly controlled. So, a government-affiliated organization will prevent players from being harmed. Although this is the reason explained, it doesn’t sound very convincing, as anyone familiar with iGaming can tell.
Because if there is a risk of manipulation, this risk also applies to slot games. It can even be said that slot games are more open to manipulation. Therefore, the justification of “protecting the players” is nothing more than an excuse. Thuringia, like many other states, wants to be able to control iGaming and therefore the revenue from it.
This Is Not a New Trend
This decision taken by Thuringia is not surprising because there are many countries that do the same in practice. If we go back to the Canadian example, we can see that the situation is exactly the same. Gambling is prohibited at the federal level, but states can make their own laws. Currently, you can legally gamble online in all Canadian provinces, but only government-controlled organizations are licensed to offer this service. In practice, there is also a monopoly in Canada.
If we look at the United States, we can see that there is a similar situation. States that legalize online gambling grant a license to private operators, but this license requires cooperation with local organizations. In short, states that are particularly provincial and have a conservative stance on iGaming are increasingly choosing to legalize gambling under government control only. This means we will see more state-monopoly on legal iGaming in the near future.
What Does This Mean for Gamers?
In this regard, we have both good and bad news. The good news is that government monopolies do indeed offer a safer experience. Private companies can always go bankrupt, but governments cannot, so you can be sure your money is safe. Similarly, if a service is provided by the government, you can be sure that certain criteria will be met, especially in terms of fairness. In other words, government monopolies will provide a safer and fairer iGaming experience.
But this comes at a price: States lack the dynamism of private companies. The quality of the service offered will decrease and there will be a problem especially in terms of bonuses. If you browse through legal Canadian casino slots, you’ll see that almost none of them offer a substantial bonus. iGaming services will not be able to compete with private operators in terms of content and quality as long as they are a state monopoly.
However, having access to legitimate iGaming services would be an advantage anyway. For example, players in Thuringia had no other option but international operators to play online table games until now, but that has now changed. Legal iGaming, even when started in a state-controlled way, may also expand to private companies in the future. In any case, legal online gambling has to start somewhere, and even if it’s state-controlled, it’s a good start.