PokerStars must refund losses incurred before online casino gambling was legalised, a German court has ruled.

Another German court has ruled that an operator must refund player losses incurred before the legalisation of online gambling last year. Cologne’s Higher Regional Court in the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen has told that PokerStars must refund a player’s losses because online casino was not legal at the time.

The player had lost €58,517 on poker and blackjack at between March 2014 and June 2020. That period was before Germany’s fourth federal gambling treaty came into effect in July last year. The new legislation legalised online slots and poker nationally rather than just in the state of Schleswig-Holstein.

The court found that the player had not been fully informed because Pokerstars did not make it clear that online casino games were illegal in most of Germany at the time. Its decision overturns that of a lower court, which had been upheld by the Bonn Regional Court. In those decisions, the courts had noted that the player himself was breaking the law and should have known that.

However, the Cologne court agreed with the plaintiff that there were “no compelling indications of the illegality of the defendant’s range of games”. It found that the fact that PokerStars’ website was in German gave the impression that its offer was legal in the country.

The player’s legal representation, Redell Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft, says that decisions against players in such cases “should now be a thing of the past”.

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