The Köln Higher Regional Court in Germany ruled on 31 October that Pokerstars and parent company Flutter Entertainment must reimburse a player’s losses because the online casino was not yet legal in the state at the time the losses occurred.

Between 2014 and 2020, the player lost more than €58,000 playing poker and blackjack on PokerStars’ international site, which was made available in Germany for several years while the country repeatedly reworked its outdated online-gambling laws. PokerStars was one of numerous operators to provide online services to German gamblers during this period.


News of the adverse ruling was published on a German legal news website by an attorney whose firm represents the claims of such litigants. Dr. Patrick Redell, a compensation-law specialist for Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH, published his report on the ruling at his own blog and at, a site where German law firms market their services. Redell’s practice actively seeks litigants against online-gambling sites. Redell did not address whether he or his firm represented the unnamed German poker player in this matter.

According to Redell, the Cologne higher court ruled that PokerStars’ offering its services and support in German, without providing a specific disclaimer that the site was not necessarily licensed in Germany, was sufficient cause to order that the gambler be refunded his losses. The Cologne court also gave little weight to Stars’ claims that the gambler was time-barred from pursuing his case, or that international law — because the services were offered from servers in Malta — trumped German law in this case.

Redell did acknowledge that PokerStars and Flutter still had the option to appeal the ruling into Germany’s federal court system. As the matter currently stands, PokerStars could also be assessed punitive damages to be awarded to the player. “Negative decisions by the [Bonn court] should now be a thing of the past.
Flutter Entertainment had yet to comment on the ruling as of Tuesday.

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