Changes for players in Germany (Updated)

July 09, 2021inPoker

Note: Updated 9 July, After reviewing the data since July 1 we are reversing the decision to increase the rake for German players in fixed limit games. The rake for German players in fixed limit games will return to the structure used before July 1.

Laws around online poker in Germany are changing, and as the world’s most trusted poker brand we want to ensure we are fully compliant. We have had to make a number of adjustments to our games in order to meet the new regulatory and tax obligation in Germany and wanted to update you ahead of time on what you can expect.

The new tax is a tax on turnover, which for online poker is a tax on buy-ins, and the level proposed in Germany is 5.3% inclusive. This means when a player buys in for €100 and plays at least one hand, we pay €5 on that session.  For tournaments, as you will later read, we have been able to make some adjustments, removing certain buy-ins. For cash games, however, we are required to pay a tax on each player’s session regardless of whether they paid rake.

Since we first learned of this and the inevitable impact it will have on our business, our primary goal has been to keep as much of our game offering available to players based in Germany as we possibly can. We also wanted to ensure we continue to offer the best possible shared liquidity experience, with massive prize pools, well-loved tournaments, record-breaking series, and popular promotions.

Achieving this does, however, mean we have had to make several changes to our poker cash games and Sit and Gos, as well as the games available on PokerStars Vegas. These are not changes we wanted to make and we’ve done whatever we can to absorb as much of the impact as possible. The changes will be effective from July 1, 2021 and affect only players based in Germany.

Cash Game Stakes

Due to the nature of the new tax, it is no longer viable for us to offer higher stakes cash games. This means that from June 30 the highest stakes available will be as follows:

  • No Limit Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha and other NL/PL games: $1/$2
  • 6+ Hold’em: $2/$2
  • Tempest: $1/$2.50/$5
  • Fixed Limit Games: $3/$6

We’re very disappointed to remove the higher stakes options from our offering but we hope that the majority of players will still be able to find a stake they enjoy playing.

Cash Game Rake

Cash game rake for players in Germany, at the stakes that will remain on offer, will increase by approximately 25% in most NL and PL games. There will be no rake increase applied to Fixed Limit, 6+ Hold’em and Tempest games.

The full details of the changes applicable to each stake are available here.

Players in Germany will remain in our shared liquidity pool with players from around the world but they will pay a different rake when they win a pot. When a hand ends, the rake will be calculated as usual but an additional rake will be added if the winner is in Germany. Note: For players outside of Germany, you may now notice increased rake amounts being taken from the pot when the winner of the hand is in Germany. This rake only applies to players based in Germany and has no impact on the rake paid by players from other countries. For example, in the case of a split pot you may notice that a player in Germany will pay more rake than a player from elsewhere.

It goes without saying that we are disappointed to have to make this change and we understand that players will feel that the rake is unfair. Although it will be of little consolation to those of you affected by this change, we want to let you know that we are doing everything we can to reduce the cost to our players.

Pool Block

If you’ve played 6+ Hold’em before, you may have come across our ‘Pool Block’ system. The system rarely impacts most players and is in place to prevent very short sessions at the cash game tables. Pool Block means that, after joining a table, you may be required to play a minimum number of hands before you can leave without triggering a time penalty, during which you would be unable to re-join cash games.

Due to the nature of the new tax, from June 30 we will be expanding the system to include all cash games for player based in Germany only. This will not impact players in other countries.

Tournaments

We intend to continue to offer our full suite of scheduled tournaments and popular series to players in Germany, including flagship events such as our Sunday Million. There will not be any change to our Grand Tour offering.

Spin & Go and Sit & Go

For players in Germany, the highest stake Spin & Go available will be $50.

The changes to the Sit & Go offering are more complex. Heads Up Sit & Go and the majority of Sit & Go Satellites will no longer be available in Germany. Several Hyper-Turbo Sit & Go’s will also be removed from the offering.

The vast majority of Turbo and Regular Speed Sit & Go’s will still be available, and we hope that the players who see their preferred game removed will enjoy these options in the future.

Stars Rewards

Currently players earn 45 reward points for every USD $1 paid in fees for scheduled tournaments, and 100 reward points for every USD $1 paid in rake in Zoom or cash games or other tournament fees (130 reward points for every £1 and 110 points for every €1).

From mid-July, players in Germany will earn 45 reward points for every USD $1 paid in fees for scheduled tournaments, and 80 reward points for every USD $1 paid in rake in Zoom or cash games or other tournament fees (104 reward points for every £1, 80 points for every CAD $1, and 88 points for every €1).

Payment and Withdrawal Verification

We are also making changes to our deposit and withdrawal process for players in Germany. From July 1:

  • Payment verification is required pre-deposit and must be obtained for every new deposit method used thereafter
  • Payment verification must take place at withdrawal if not already verified at deposit stage

You’ll be prompted to send us your documents in the Cashier. However, we encourage you to verify any methods you may wish to use in the future as soon as possible. You can send us your documents . For more details on validating your payment methods, and for answers to any other questions you may have, please head to our Help Centre.

PokerStars Vegas

The new tax also impacts our PokerStars Vegas offering. As a result, from July 1 some games may no longer be available to players in Germany. Please rest assured that we are doing everything we can in partnership with our game providers to ensure that the games you know and love are available for you to play.

We understand these changes are disappointing for those affected and under normal circumstances we would not have chosen to make them. As one of the largest and most regulated online poker sites in the world, compliance with local laws and regulations is of the upmost importance to PokerStars. We know this may restrict choice for some of you, and that some other brands may choose a different route. However, at PokerStars, we are committed to safe, regulated and responsible gaming and truly believe that working within local regulations is what is best for the long-term health and growth of the game.

Our teams have worked tirelessly to find ways to continue to provide the majority of our games to players in Germany.

We hope you can still find the games you know and love, and continue to spend your time with us.

 

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PokerStars staff

We are home to a huge selection of poker games including Texas Hold'em, Omaha and more, all available in a wide range of limits that suit every type of player. With games running around the clock and a tournament starting every second, you’ll never be far from the action. If you’re looking for a fun and safe place to play with people from around the world, with games available for real or play money, then we have all you need.

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