German player loss reimbursement lawsuits dismissed

| By Marese O'Hagan
A number of lawsuits, arguing that players were owed refunds for losses in what were at the time illegal forms of gambling, have been dismissed in Germany.

The lawsuits stem from individuals who took part in online casino games outside of the state of Schleswig-Holstein, before the country’s latest state treaty (GlüNeuRStV) was enforced. At the time, Schleswig-Holstein was the only state in which online gaming was legal.

The GlüNeuRStV, which expanded Germany’s igaming market outside online betting, came into effect on July 1 2021.

The suits argue that because the individuals took part in casino games before it was legal, they should be entitled to reimbursement for any losses they may have made.

Law firm Hambach and Hambach represented online casino platforms and payment providers in the suits.

A final judgement on one of the suits, which took place on 1 September in Leipzig Regional Court, concluded that gambling has an inherent risk of losing money and thus by participating the players were aware of the possibility of losses. The court also emphasised that the plaintiff had made themselves liable for prosecution by breaching section 817 sentence 2 of the German Civil Code by playing illegally.

On the same date, the Braunschweig Regional Court rejected an individual’s application for legal aid after they filed a similar suit. Again, the court pointed to gambling risks and how the plaintiff had violated section 285 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits participation in illegal gambling.

A third suit was dismissed by Munich District Court on June 10 2021. The suit was against a payment provider and alleged that it had breached contractual obligations towards the player. The claim fell under tort law but failed as the payment provider had not defied any protection laws.

The GlüNeuRStV came with controversial conditions, including a 5.3% tax on online slot and poker stakes and a €1 per spin stake limit.

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