PokerStars Forced to Return Over $50K to Player in Germany

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PokerStars Forced to Return Over K to Player in Germany

PokerStars is the latest online gaming operator to fall on its sword in a German courtroom. The Flutter-led poker platform must return a player’s money, making it one of a growing list of similar cases.

The PokerStars logo on top of a poker tournament trophy. The Flutter-owned company must reimburse a German gambler over $58K following a court’s ruling. (Image: PokerScout)

The dispute began several years ago, at a time before Germany embraced online gambling. From March 2014 to June 2020, the plaintiff lost a little more than €58,500 (US$58,500) playing poker and blackjack on the platform.

However, because PokerStars had no license in the country at the time, it was operating illegally. That’s the determination of the Cologne Higher Regional Court (OLG, for its German acronym), which reversed a lower court’s decision.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

This isn’t the first such case to appear before a German court judge, and the previous outcomes set the stage for the latest. Sports betting operator Betano and others have landed in court over the same issue, and they have all had to pay.

The onus is on the plaintiff to prove that he or she didn’t know the online gaming platform was operating illegally. In the PokerStars dispute, from the plaintiff’s point of view, there were no compelling indications that brought the platform’s legal status into question.

Furthermore, there was no evidence that the activity of online gambling in Germany was illegal on the platform. On the contrary, the German-language website and the German-language customer service gave the impression of legality.

Despite the legal precedent, PokerStars initially won its case in a court in Bonn. However, the OLG Cologne shot down the lower court’s ruling on a couple of arguments.

PokerStars argued that its international legal status trumped German law. This is similar to the failed argument Kindred has tried to use in Norway.

PokerStars also tried to argue that the court’s rulings on the matter violate European laws, and that the statute of limitations had expired. These arguments also failed.

There have now been at least six lawsuits of this nature involving different gaming operators. Each time another plaintiff wins, other consumers may get bolder and submit similar claims.

PokerStars Finds Support Back Home

Flutter might not be feeling the love in Germany, but back home in Ireland, it continues to make a splash. The company announced that PokerStars and Paddy Power Poker will be the main sponsors for the Irish Poker Open (IPO) next year.

The IPO is the longest-running poker event in Europe, according to Flutter’s announcement. The Royal Dublin Society’s Ballsbridge campus will host the festivities from April 3-10, taking over for the CityWest Hotel.

Paddy Power used to be the sponsor of the event, but partypoker took over. Now, the event is returning to its roots.

PokerStars and Paddy Power Poker will hold satellites for entry into the games. PokerStars is also setting up an online Irish Open series ahead of the festival. The main event, which will be livestreamed on both platforms along with the other tournaments, will have a guarantee of €1 million (US$1 million).

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