Industry left frustrated as German law firms proceed with player reimbursement claims

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Gambling industry executives have turned to social media to vent their frustration over the rising number of historical player reimbursement cases in Germany.

Over the course of 2022, there has been a major uptick in law firms promoting their compensation services online and advising players on how to claim back losses.

The issue was thrust back under the microscope after the Cologne Higher Regional Court last week ordered Flutter-owned PokerStars to reimburse a player who lost more than €58,500 by playing poker and blackjack on the Pokerstars.eu website between March 2014 and June 2020.

The court ruled that PokerStars was not right to take money from the player prior to the legalisation of poker in Germany.

PokerStars initially won the case in a lower court in Bonn; however, the court in Cologne reversed the ruling.

In another October ruling, the district court in Ellwangen ordered Tipico to refund more than €43,000 to a player, which they had initially lost in Tipico’s online casino between March 2014 and February 2021.

The latest rulings will serve as a blow to the bottom line of gambling industry operators, although they can still appeal at a federal level.

In June, iGaming NEXT first reported about the rising number of player lawsuits in the German courts which pre-date Germany’s regulated gambling market.

iGaming Group COO Phil Pearson took to LinkedIn to express his frustration on the matter.

He said: “Germany is going to refund players randomly, in random states, for gambling by German nationals in 2014, when the country was actually legal due to certain state treaties. On poker? PokerStars must be in shock.

“Seriously, what is the point of the EU, government, or even regulation, if you can’t control your own court decisions? Being able to just keep trying again in a new court should not be legal.

“The fact that this is what companies that are well known for their player protection and RG have to deal with is absolutely insane,” he added.

The common argument in these lawsuits is that since the operator was not licensed in Germany, the contract between the operator and the player is invalid, and therefore lost money should be refunded to the player.

Back in June, law firms told iGaming NEXT they were being inundated by gambling customers demanding their money back.

For instance, attorney István Cocron of CLLB Rechtsanwälte, said his firm was dealing with in excess of 1,200 cases.

Moreover, lawyers sought help from technical platforms to bundle and process player claims, which allows mass historical claims to be filed against operators. 

In addition, several YouTube videos by law firms are informing players of the process, while their websites feature step-by-step instructions on how to recover lost funds, much to the annoyance and frustration of the online gambling industry.

About the author

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Sonja Lindenberg

Sonja Lindenberg is an experienced editor and journalist, with a strong focus on business, finance, trade and investment. She holds a degree in business journalism and throughout the past two decades has covered companies and industries in various markets and for different media, including newspapers, news agencies, inflight magazines, country reports and trade publications. Sonja joined iGaming NEXT in June 2022.

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