German Online Casino Awaits OK from State Government

28 February 2002

Spielbank Hamburg, a land-based casino operator in Hamburg, Germany, will soon venture into the Internet gambling business through the launch of a unique new online casino.

The new site will be an Internet interface for a real casino. Games will be played live via three Web-cams, which will capture a real-life roulette wheel from different angles.

At home the player in front of the computer may choose to watch just one Web-cam or look at all three at the simultaneously. The computer driving the installation is capable of around 100 million transactions during each run of the ball.

Civil service officials from the Hamburg Ministry of Finance will monitor the site to be sure that the game is correctly played.

Spielbank Hamburg has been testing its "live" casino concept for years and could launch its services immediately.

"However," explained Gunda Windberger, a spokeswoman for Spielbank, "the system has to be licensed by the Senate of Hamburg and is actually checked by the Ministry of Finance of Hamburg, to find the approval by authorities concerned. As this is a political process, we can not even estimate how long it will take to be launched."

For now Spielbank's customers will have to visit one of the company's five outlets in Hamburg:

  • Spielbank Hamburg at the Hotel InterContinental (opened in 1978), with French and American roulette; 7-card stud; and blackjack.
  • Automaten-Spielbank Hamburg near the main station (opened in 1981), with slots.
  • Automaten-Spielbank Hamburg in the east of the town (opened in1985), with slots and electronic French roulette.
  • The Kasino Reeperbahn in the red light district (opened in1987), with slots, electronic French roulette and table games: American roulette, blackjack and poker.
  • Automaten-Spielbank Harburg (opened in 1994), with slots and electronic roulette.

Hamburg, Germany's biggest harbor, has become the city with the greatest offering of games of chances in Europe. The bricks-and-mortar casinos and four coin-up casinos with slot machines and horse racing games are all operated by Spielbank Hamburg Jahr & Achterfeld KG. The company is owned by managing shareholder Prof. Wilfried Achterfeld and John Jahr (from the family of the famous publishing company Gruner & Jahr) and Klaus Unger. The gross income of the company in 2001 was 118,100,424 DM (60.4 million EUR, US$52.3 million); between 85 and 90 percent (101.980.393 DM) was paid out to the state of Hamburg.

Hamburg (the state) will probably at least triple its income when Spielbank starts its Internet casino activities.

There are 56 legal casinos in operation in Germany.

Rob van der Gaast has a background in sports journalism. He worked for over seven years as the head of sports for Dutch National Radio and has developed new concepts for the TV and the gambling industry. Now he operates from Istanbul as an independent gambling research analyst. He specializes in European gambling matters and in privatizations of gambling operators. Rob has contributed to IGN since Jul 09, 2001.