Defence strategy against the wave of litigation in online gambling

In recent years, providers of online gambling services have been confronted with an unprecedented wave of lawsuits in Germany and elsewhere. This has resulted in numerous judgments, mostly to the detriment of the gambling providers. Many companies were among those affected by this wave of lawsuits and were ordered by the courts to repay stakes placed and gambled by players.

We have analyzed the rulings published in this context and, on this basis, developed a coherent defense strategy that classifies and bundles the arguments put forward in each case and takes into account the trends and requirements of case law. Even though the sparsely issued decisions of the higher regional courts appear at first glance to be to the disadvantage of online casino operators, clear cornerstones of a defense strategy can be derived from them. For example, the higher regional courts (e.g. Frankfurt, Cologne and, most recently, Dresden) specify which requirements must be met in order to prove the knowledge of the players.

In particular, however, we see European law as an effective lever to take the momentum out of the avalanche of lawsuits. Thus, in addition to national case law, our team has paid particular attention to the case law of the ECJ and revealed aspects previously disregarded by German case law. Contrary to widespread opinion in Germany, the non-observance of Maltese or other European online gambling licenses is precisely not unobjectionable under EU law. There is an urgent need for action to bring the specific facts underlying the wave of lawsuits before the ECJ in order to restore legal certainty to the sometimes contradictory decision-making practice of German courts.

In addition to legal arguments, social, economic and political arguments are also in favor of rejecting the recovery claims. Our defense strategy is therefore not only based on formal legal aspects, but takes a holistic approach. We would like to point out, for example, the addictive effect of the possibility of gambling without the risk of loss, the exposed position of German regulation in an international comparison, and the systematic discrimination against online gambling. In particular, the case law of the European Court of Justice not only leaves room for such arguments, but even makes their consideration imperative.

All of these factors justify a confident approach to the current wave of lawsuits with a consistent litigation strategy, and to fight for precedent-setting decisions. In addition, a clever defense strategy enables us to build up a strong negotiating position in the course of any settlement negotiations against the lawyers “protecting” the gamblers, which mostly bill on the basis of legal fees. Here we can refer to some recent successes.

We will be happy to assist you with competent attorneys in both in-court and out-of-court dispute resolution and advise to seriously counter claims made by players. In this way, the chances of success can at least be increased and money that has already been offset by the provision of an adequate service in return can be saved.

We will be happy to discuss initial steps by telephone, e-mail or video call and to examine the main features of a defense strategy that is specifically suited to your company.

Thomas Hertl, Lawyer