Anyone who has ever dealt with online casinos will sooner or later come across a so-called geoblock. Customers from certain countries, especially Germany, are denied access to certain websites or offers, especially online casinos, due to the IP address. Many customers ask themselves why this geoblock exists, how it works and, of course, how it can be bypassed. In the following we will explain how geoblocking works, why it exists, the legal basis for it and also how you can bypass such a block.
You can bypass the geoblock in these online casinos
What is a geoblock?
First of all, it must be clarified what exactly a geoblock is. To put it simply, it is an access block for users from previously specified countries. These users can then not visit the actual website, but are greeted by a message that explains that they are not allowed to visit the page. The best known of these messages was the announcement from YouTube that “This content […] is not available in your country!”, At least until 2016.
This was due to a dispute between YouTube and the “Society for Musical Performances and Mechanical Reproduction Rights” (GEMA for short) over the rights to music videos on the platform. In the meantime, the two sides have come to an agreement, but content on YouTube is still country-specific blocked. A first reason for this geoblocking can be seen in this example: It serves to protect some license rights. But more on that later.
How does geoblocking work?
In principle, the server is signaled that a customer from a non-approved country is correct and therefore refuses access. So the question arises as to how the respective server knows that you come from one of the blocked countries. There are several possibilities for this, so this can be determined at the specified address or determined by the payment method and thus the transaction can be canceled. The telephone number can also provide information about a person's whereabouts, thanks to the country code, such as +49 for Germany or +31 for the Netherlands.
And last but not least, the IP address also provides information about the location of the user. The IP address is the most frequently used source of information for geoblocking, as the server can determine the location within a few seconds and block the content if necessary.
What exactly is the IP address and what information does it reveal?
As in a telephone network, it must also be possible to uniquely identify every device on the Internet; this applies to both the home network and the global Internet. This ensures that the desired data arrives at the correct device. The IP address is always transmitted when a website is called up, as this is the only way for the respective server to know where to send the desired data. IP stands for Internet Protocol, the most widespread network standard that specifies how information is to be exchanged in the respective network, comparable to the grammar of a language. One of these rules dictates that every device that moves on the Internet needs an IP address.
These addresses are structured according to two different standards; in this article we will concentrate on the IPv4 standard, as this is the best known. An IPv4 address is made up of four numbers in the range from 0 to 255 and separated from each other by a period. An example for an IP address would look like this: 192.168.1.144. Some will of course have noticed that the number of combinations with this system is limited, which is why the IPv6 standard was introduced, which allows an infinite number of combinations.
This IP address always changes when you reconnect the router or your own device to the Internet, with the exception of static IP addresses, which are assigned to websites, for example. The same applies to servers or networkers as these services should always be available and, above all, quickly accessible.
Using this address, the server can read out from which country and through which provider the website is being accessed. How exactly this localization is depends on the distance to the next so-called Internet dial-in node. In urban areas, these nodes can only be a few hundred meters away from one's own place of residence, while in rural areas the dial-in node is usually kilometers away from one's own location, since the node is in the next largest city. The provider can also use this address to track the data stream of its own customers and theoretically track the websites visited.
These data must currently be deleted after the Internet session has ended, but this could change with the introduction of data retention. The final judgment of the ECJ is still pending.
On what basis is geo-blocking applied?
It gets a bit complicated here because on the one hand geoblocking is prohibited in the EU if a company operates within the EU, but some national laws restrict this regulation, and there are also a number of exceptions. But before we go into the EU regulations in more detail, we can say that there are three basic reasons for a geoblock. On the one hand, for the licensing reasons already mentioned, Netflix may have the rights for a show in Germany, but does not have these rights in the Netherlands, which is why the offer for German customers in the Netherlands is being adapted accordingly.
The second reason is that the provision of the offered service or goods is logistically not possible in the blocked country and customers are therefore not allowed on the website. The last reason is a bit gloomy, but has to be mentioned, a geoblock can also be used to restrict free access to information or to restrict freedom of expression, for example in China or North Korea.
But back to the EU and the rules that apply in it. The geoblocking regulation is intended to protect both customers, i.e. consumers with an EU nationality or a place of residence within the EU, as well as so-called end-using companies. An “end-user company” is a provider who offers services or goods exclusively for end-use, such as Netflix or online casinos. Companies that resell, convert, process or subcontract services or goods are excluded from this regulation.
What is allowed under this regulation?
In principle, providers are free to offer their goods and services in different countries at different prices. These different customer groups can be addressed in different languages and on different websites, but the customer must be free to access the offer via a website in another country and to use the conditions of the respective country. In addition, it is the provider to charge higher shipping costs for goods used if the shipment takes place across national borders.
What is not allowed under this regulation?
Under the geoblocking regulation, it is generally not allowed to prohibit customers from accessing a website based on their place of residence, place of business or nationality. This means that the “shop like a local” directive applies, which states that customers in other EU countries can shop across borders like locals. In order to better understand this regulation, we give three examples from the Federal Network Agency.
The blocking or restriction of customer access to a user interface. This includes, for example, if you want to access an online shop in France, but this automatically redirects you to the German version. Before such a diversion, a customer must be asked whether he or she would prefer to visit the German version. Different access to goods or services would also be considered inadmissible, with exceptions. For example, if a car rental company has different operations depending on the country of origin of the contractual partner, this is considered discriminatory business operations.
Discrimination in connection with the payment is also considered inadmissible. An online retailer, for example, only offers domestic customers the option of paying by credit card; this is not permitted according to the geoblocking regulation.
What are the exceptions?
As with any law or regulation, there are also some exceptions to geoblocking, which include certain types of services as well as justified inequalities of treatment. We will briefly present the most important exceptions here. As already mentioned at the beginning, so-called audiovisual services (e.g. streaming services) are one of these exceptions, but other services are also excluded from this regulation, including:
Financial services (e.g. banking or credit transactions), services and networks of electronic communication, transport services (including railways and air traffic, with the exception of package tours), temporary employment agencies, health services, games of chance that require a monetary value (i.e. online casinos, sports betting and lotteries) and also social services among a few others. The most important exception for us are the online casinos.
How can you bypass a geoblock for online casinos?
Now that we have clarified the question of what a block and how it works, the question arises how one can bypass one. In general, there are three common options that are available to you. Of course, these come with their own advantages and disadvantages. In the following we will describe the three types of bypasses in more detail.
Bypass the geoblock of online casinos with a proxy server
Here at you connect to a special server that is hosted in a different country and thus assign you a new IP address with which you can, for example, bypass the geoblock of the online casino. For this option, after a Google search or other search engines, you can quickly find a large number of free servers in different countries with which you can then connect. In the Firefox browser, for example, you can set up a proxy server by going to the Settings menu and selecting “Manual proxy configuration” in the window that opens.
The IP address of the desired server must then be entered here and you can surf with a new address with which the blocking of the online casinos can be avoided. This free variant looks very tempting at first glance, but unfortunately has some disadvantages that can be a problem, especially at online casinos.
These free servers are often overloaded, which leads to a slow connection and hinders or makes it impossible to transmit videos, as in a live casino, or to play and display slot machines. Another disadvantage is that many proxy servers disappear as quickly as they appeared, which means you often have to look for a new server and then hope that it meets your own requirements. Unfortunately, you can't do more here than try and hope. In addition, it is important to make sure that the server establishes an encrypted HTTPS connection, especially if you want to make transfers, otherwise you make yourself vulnerable. This variant works, but should rather be used by technology-savvy customers.
Bypass the geoblock of online casinos with SmartDNS
SmartDNS is an online service that works similarly to a proxy, here the user and the IP address of a foreign server can be used. The difference to a proxy server is that not all data traffic runs through the respective server, which often leads to speed problems, but that only the IP address is used and is combined with the local, hopefully fast Internet connection. But of course there are also one or two disadvantages with this variant. With a SmartDNS, the data is often not encrypted and therefore vulnerable, which in turn poses a risk with online transfers. In addition, this variant is often chargeable, so everyone should decide for themselves whether the price-performance ratio suits them.
Bypass the geoblock of online casinos with a VPN
The last option that we present is probably the most recommendable for most customers, since a so-called “Virtual Private Network” (short: VPN) is above all easy to use and shines with good security. A VPN often offers its customers access to several thousand servers in many different countries, the customer only has to choose the right server and can use it to access the content in the desired country, such as an online casino. The way it works is similar to that of a proxy, i.e. the data is routed via a foreign server that assigns you a corresponding IP address.
The main difference between the two is that with a VPN, the data is transmitted in a tunnel, which on the one hand hides the IP address and protects sensitive data such as your own email address or passwords from prying eyes. The disadvantage here is that such a service also costs something. Nevertheless, we would recommend a VPN to most customers who want to bypass the geoblock of online casinos, as they are easy to use and offer a high level of security.
Is it legal to bypass a geoblock?
Finally, we want to clarify the question of whether it is legal to bypass such a geoblock. In principle, every EU citizen is allowed to anonymize his IP address with a proxy or VPN, but you cannot say 100% whether it is legal to remove geoblocks (as of September 2021). It should be mentioned that according to § 108b and § 111a UrhG a criminal liability or administrative offense is excluded in any case in the case of exclusively private actions.
We would also like to point out that many services, including some online casinos, prohibit bypassing a geoblock in terms and conditions. In the worst case, a violation, if this is noticed, of course, can lead to the account being blocked. Furthermore, these rules only apply to the EU, other countries prohibit the use of VPNs or the like, including China, for example.
Otherwise, understandable wisdom also applies that you should commit a crime under the guise of a proxy or a VPN that this is of course illegal, including, for example, the use of file sharing sites for pirated copies. So before you circumvent the geoblocking of an online casino, you should first read the terms and conditions to avoid unpleasant surprises.
the Federal Network Agency has specially provided a page with information on this topic.
VPN step by step instructions
Here we show you how to set up a VPN connection via an external program or Windows. Just follow these step-by-step instructions.
Zeit: 5 minutes
VPN via external program
Probably the easiest method to use a VPN is with one of the different providers such as: NordVPN , CyberGhost , ProtonVPN and much more. These providers usually offer their own program with which you can use the VPN. With this program you can then simply log in with your login data. Then you are offered a selection of different countries and connections. In our example (see picture) you can search for a country on the left, or you can select a server via the map and connect to it by clicking on the point.
The current connection is then displayed at the lower edge; the connection can also be disconnected here. We recommend this option to most, as no technical know-how is required.
Set VPN via Windows
There is also the option of setting up a VPN via the Windows settings. However, you have to inform yourself beforehand about the VPN connection setting of the selected provider. To do this, simply go to the start menu (Windows logo on the lower left edge) and click on the gear to get to the control panel. There simply click on “Network and Internet”, then look for “VPN” in the left-hand list and click on it as well. Please select “Add VPN connection” and select Windows (integrated) as “VPN provider”.
You can choose the connection name yourself. The address of the VPN server must be entered in the Server name or IP address field. The VPN type can usually be found on the provider's website or is sent to you with the other data. Then enter the login data and click Save. To activate the VPN, you have to click on the network symbol and select the connection, confirm with “connect”.
Auch im Chrome-Browser geht man zuerst in das Menü und wählt dort „Einstellungen“ aus, in diesem Menü muss man sich dann die „Erweiterte Einstellungen anzeigen“ anzeigen lassen. Dort unter System auf „Proxy-Einstellungen des Computers öffnen“ klicken. Dann öffnet sich das Windows-Dialogfeld.