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Justified hope of aggrieved consumers of online casinos

8. September 2023

Dresden Higher Regional Court rules in favor of injured consumers of online sports betting; this could also affect online gambling.

OLG Dresden rules in favor of injured consumers of online sports bets

This is the judgment of the OLG Dresden (Az.: 13 U 1753/22) of 31.05.2023, with which now further reliable case law of a court of higher instance is available in favor of the aggrieved consumers of online gambling. Although the case dealt with there concerns a claim due to offered online sports betting, the reasoning of the court can also be applied to more general, further forms of online gambling.


First instance ruling (still) in favor of the operators

The OLG overturned a ruling by the LG Görlitz (Ref.: 1 O 452/21), which had still ruled in favor of the defendant sports betting operator. The reason for this is primarily the lack of a legal basis, i.e. a license, for effec­tively offering online gambling or betting in Germany. Such a license could not and was not granted until the gambling treaty came into force in 2021 due to official regula­tions (the only exception was the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein, which had its own licensing procedure).

The LG Görlitz argued that the lack of a license for the sports betting provider was therefore not the fault of the betting provider, since it had fulfilled its part by applying for one and the problems with the granting of the license should not be at the expense of the latter.


OLG Dresden: Online sports betting (online gambling) is not legal without a license

However, the OLG Dresden contra­dicted this by stating that online gambling without a license could not be “legal” or justified by the fact that no licenses had been issued to date. In addition, the provider had also violated numerous intended license provi­sions when operating online gaming without a license, which had been completely disre­garded in the decision of the LG Görlitz. An appeal to the Federal Court of Justice is permis­sible as the next higher and final instance; should it come to that, a similar outcome in favor of the affected consumers is by no means unlikely on the basis of the OLG’s conclusive argumentation.

The argumen­tation of the OLG Dresden followed already earlier, on 16.05.2023, also the LG Kiel, which granted a complaint against an on-line casino operator on repayment of the losses and this even for a player from Schleswig-Holstein. Therefore, players from this federal state may also be entitled to a successful repayment, explains attorney Fürstenow.

In addition, the Regional Court clarified that even a later granting of the license (i.e. after 30.06.2021) does not mean a retroactive approval of the illegal business activity until then. This also makes it easier for those affected to know their rights and, if necessary, to reclaim money, since according to this opinion online gambling in Germany was always carried out without legal grounds until 30.06.2021 and therefore a claim for surrender of the money obtained without legal grounds is estab­lished from §§ 812, 134 BGB.


Conclusion: justified hope of damaged consumers of on-line Casinos

The issued judge­ments gives justified hope to all consumers damaged by on-line Casinos to receive their losses back, so RA Fürstenow.

There is due to the so far different right inter­pre­ta­tions and by the fact that there is still no supreme court iuris­diction to this case, still no final warranty the lost money also to receive back; the direction, in which the judge­ments and the prevailing opinion develop at the moment however show clearly that the consumer rights against illegal on-line Casino operators are strengthened. In addition, a case-by-case exami­nation as always makes sense, but especially for losses after 30.06.2021, since possibly even after this date still acted without a license.

Do you have further questions on this topic or are you an injured consumer due to online sports betting or online casinos? Attorney Sascha C Fürstenow will be happy to advise you on this.