PokerStars have lost a German court case that may force them to refund more than €58,000 of a player’s losses due to not informing gamblers and poker players that the site was not licensed.
The curious case revolves around PokerStars offering their services at a time when German online gaming laws were in a state of flux.
The player who brought the case lost a net total of €58,517.70 between 2014 and 2020, playing poker and blackjack on PokerStars.eu.
The site, now owned by Flutter Entertainment, did not have a licence to operate in Germany at the time. This was before the nationwide Fourth State Treaty on Gambling (GlüNeuRStV) came into force on July 1st, 2021.
PokerStars won an initial hearing at the Bonn Regional Court, but last week’s appeal at the Higher regional Court in Cologne went against them.
"Contrary to the opinion of the Regional Court...there were no clear indications on the website operated by the defendant that online games of chance were inadmissible in Germany...” stated the Cologne court, noting a limited offering in Schleswig-Holstein at the time as an exception.
The ruling states that, “the German-language website and the German-language customer service conveyed the appearance of legality,” and that the player being able to “easily register from his residence ... and set up a so-called player account,” were legitimate factors.
PokerStars had claimed variously that the issue ought to have been time-barred, or heard under international law rather than German law, as the company is registered in Malta, but the court in Cologne disagreed with that too.
Dr. Patrick Redell, a compensation-law specialist, shared news of the court decision, claiming, “plaintiff was entitled to both a claim for repayment under enrichment law and a tortious claim for damages against the sued online casino.”
PokerStars have yet to comment publicly on the legal decision.