Illegal gambling on the internet - How to get your money back

Gambling on the internet is booming, usually probably only to the benefit of the providers. In many cases, easily accessible gambling on the internet promotes gambling addiction among various people. The Gießen Regional Court has now put a stop to this, at least for a provider with a Maltese licence.

The right gambling licence is what counts

The operator of an internet gambling game only has a licence from the Republic of Malta. Nevertheless, he also offers his internet gambling in the Federal State of Hesse. The plaintiff participated in this internet gambling game and lost € 11,758.50 after netting gambling winnings.

He sued the operator of the internet game of chance before the Gießen Regional Court, which ruled in his favour. The contract on participation in the internet game of chance is void according to § 134 BGB. The plaintiff can demand the return of his loss according to § 812 BGB.

Can you sue in a German court at all?

Yes, because in cases where the operator of an internet gambling service is domiciled in the EU, the Regulation on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (EuGVVO) is relevant. Pursuant to Art. 18 (1) EuGVVO, in these cases one can also sue at the court of one's domicile.

Can the operator of an internet gambling service rely on an EU licence?

No, according to § 4 of the State Treaty on Gambling in Germany (GlüStV), the operator of a game of chance generally requires a permit from the competent authority of the respective federal state. However, according to Section 4 (4) of the GlüStV, organising and brokering public games of chance on the internet is prohibited.

The licence of the Republic of Malta, which the operator of an internet gambling service had, does not change this. The internet prohibition of Section 4 (4) GlüStV is in line with Union law (cf. OLG Köln, judgment of 10 May 2019, Case No. 6 U 196/18; BVerwGE, NVwZ 2018, 895). The internet ban of Section 4 (4) GlüStV takes precedence over the licence of the Republic of Malta.

Are you perhaps acting inconsistently?

The claim for restitution according to § 812 BGB has its pitfalls. According to § 817 p. 2 BGB, anyone who knows that the party accepting the money is violating a law cannot, in principle, demand the money paid back. In the area of illegal internet gambling, however, this is different according to the Gießen Regional Court. The regulations of the GlüStV are intended to protect gambling participants from addictive, ruinous and/or fraudulent forms of gambling. This objective required that the participant be granted a claim for repayment, even if he or she had violated the prohibition of Section 4 (4) GlüStV by participating in the internet game of chance.

Get your money back

A gambling addiction is often behind high losses from internet gambling. This usually leads to considerable financial and personal difficulties. By taking legal action against the operator of internet gambling, those affected can overcome at least part of their financial problems. On the basis of the ruling of the Giessen Regional Court, we believe the chances are good. As always, however, it depends on the individual case. Let us advise you.

Source: LG Gießen, judgement of 21.01.2021, Az. 4 O 84/20

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GoldbergUllrich Lawyers 2021

Julius Oberste-Dommes LL.M. (Information Law)

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Specialist lawyer for information technology law