Online roulette has Germans in a spin

Punters enjoy live action via webcam

Some 1800 people have registered for online roulette from casino Spielbank Wiesbaden since the service opened in July, Heise Online reports. Spielbank Wiesbaden operates Germany's only licenced internet roulette operation.

Wiesbaden casino - with its filigree woodcarvings, golden friezes and crystal chandeliers - was already was a famous institution at the end of the 18th century. Celebrity gamblers visiting the establishment included Otto von Bismarck, Feodor Dostoyevsky and Elvis Presley, all contributing to the casino's financial success which continues to this day. Between 1991 and 1999 Spielbank Wiesbaden rose five places in Germany's gross gambling revenue ranking (to reach seventh place), managing to increase its cash across the tables to DM61.7m ($40m).

In 2002 the casino - one of some 50 concessioned casinos in Germany - decided to enter into the digital arena. To offer gambling on the web, though, it needed the State Parliament to change the Casino Act and today it is still the only casino in Germany which offers roulette online. A similar venture in Hamburg failed as Hamburg's Constitutional Court held that gamblers must be physically present in the casino.

Indeed, Wiesbaden gamblers do not participate in a virtual game: the numbers are still determined on a real roulette wheel, with webcams broadcasting the event live - a pretty unique concept, even by Vegas standards. Participants must, however, either be residents of the State of Hesse or currently visiting the State.

So far the casino hasn't pulled a big crowd of punters. On average, only 200 gamblers take part each day. However, Spielbank Wiesbaden believes the estimate of its gross profit of €2m per year will be "slightly surpassed". ®

Related stories

WTO rules against US gambling laws
Sportingbet snaps up Paradise Poker
UK Gov unwraps Gambling Bill
Amex prevents punters gambling online

Sponsored: Designing and building an open ITOA architecture