German court throws out player’s case to recoup gambling losses

| By Marese O'Hagan
The Bonn Regional Court has upheld a judgement imposed by the Euskirchen District Court on 31 May to dismiss a claim from a player to recoup losses that occurred before online gambling was legalised.

The plaintiff had played online casino games from an operator based in Malta, before Germany’s Fourth State Treaty on Gambling (GlüNeuRStV) was implemented. The GlüNeuRStV allowed online slots and poker to be offered in Germany for the first time.

They argued that because online play was illegal at the time, they were entitled to reimbursements on losses they had made.

The operators involved were represented by the law firm Hambach and Hambach.

This case was initially dismissed by the Euskirchen District Court in May. However, the plaintiff appealed the ruling and the matter was then brought before and rejected by Bonn Regional Court.

This is the first appeal judgement at any of Germany’s regional courts in this type of case.

The Bonn Regional Court stated that the suit had failed as the plaintiff had violated section 285 of Germany’s Criminal Code, by knowingly playing online casino games from a provider outside of Germany.

Hambach and Hambach noted that it was obvious the player should have known that online gambling was illegal at the time the losses took place.

“The unlawfulness of online gambling had been strongly in the public eye, especially in the years of his participation in 2019 and 2020, not only on the internet but also in the national press,” the law firm explained. “Against this background, it was unrealistic to assume that the plaintiff did not know this.

“He should have been aware that he would have had to clarify the question of legality himself before participating. According to the court, the plaintiff could have easily done this by inquiring at the competent authorities or by researching on the internet.”

The plaintiff argued that he had no knowledge of this law, which the court did not accept.

Several similar lawsuits in lower courts were dismissed in September.

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