Lose a lot of money in online gambling but still have no damage? That could soon be the case for players in Germany – if a court ruling catches on.

Online gambling involves risks just like in a real casino.

AOnline gambling providers face an expensive wave of lawsuits. The district court of Giessen decided that the operator of an online casino must reimburse a player for his losses. The verdict is not yet legally binding. If it catches on, that could be the starting shot for many lawsuits. The industry has been operating in a gray area between liberal European and rigid German rules for years.

The case, which was first reported by NDR and “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, is about 11,758.50 euros that a man addicted to gambling lost while gambling online. He can possibly demand this back. The background to this is that online casinos are banned in Germany, except in Schleswig-Holstein.

The provider, which belongs to the British gaming group Entain, invoked a gaming license from its home country at the hearing at the end of January. The group cannot produce a license from Hessen in which the player is domiciled. From Entain’s point of view, this is not even necessary due to the European freedom to provide services. In contrast, the German State Treaty on Gambling is unequivocal in Paragraph 4, Paragraph 4: The organization and brokerage of public games of chance on the Internet is prohibited.

Association speaks of individual decision

The Giessen Regional Court also used this as a basis in its very brief decision on four pages (Ref .: 4 O 84/20). The Internet ban is applicable despite the European freedom to provide services, it emphasized with reference to several judgments, including the Federal Administrative Court. A second aspect is likely to cause annoyance in the industry: Even a possible tolerance of the offer by the Hessian Ministry of the Interior does not override the ban, the judges made clear. However, many providers have relied on the toleration, which is intended to be an interim solution until the planned legalization of gambling in July. A new State Treaty on Gambling will apply from July.

Entain is now considering appealing, said a spokesman. Otherwise one does not want to “comment publicly on the ongoing proceedings”. Other providers did not want to comment on whether they were facing similar lawsuits. The German Online Casino Association announced: “According to our knowledge, lawsuits for repayment are not even accepted by the courts in a row. This is a previously unpublished and not legally binding individual decision. “

The question remains why the plaintiff got the money back even though he broke the rules himself. That is because of their purpose, said the court in Gießen. After all, they are specifically designed to protect customers who are addicted to gambling.