Internet gambling sites such as Hyperino, Pokerstars or Unibet earn almost half a billion euros a year in Germany. The money comes from private gamblers who lose a lot accordingly. But now there are some service providers who will get you the money back. How does it work?
Online gambling in Germany is a legal gray area, actually only Schleswig-Holstein allows the operation of internet casinos. The most recent State Treaty on Gambling was supposed to change that and legalize casinos nationwide. But since July 2021, no company for online poker games or online casino games has entered the list of applicants of the responsible state administration office in Saxony-Anhalt. Only state lottery operators and profit savings associations from various banks have licenses. The actual gambling industry is still waiting.
On the other hand, various start-ups that promise unlucky gamblers to recoup their losses are much more active. They are called Chargeback24, Helpcheck or Rightnow. They are interested in so-called mass damage cases, in which several users file claims for damages against certain companies. Consumers have known such a business model for air passenger rights for some time.
The report quotes a spokesman for Helpcheck. The company has so far mainly been active in the areas of life insurance and employment law. But that is changing: “In online gambling we see another field in which consumers do not get their rights and in some cases suffer considerable damage.”
In concrete terms, “considerable damage” means that the specialists usually take action for losses of 10,000 euros or more. The argumentation pattern usually follows the following line: Players who lose money with an illegal provider and did not know anything about the illegality of the transaction have a legal right to a refund of the stakes.
Naturally, the gambling providers see things very differently. They justify themselves by saying that players have to confirm that they are informed about the legal situation in their country of residence before gambling.
However, numerous German courts do not follow this argument. Almost 50 district courts made judgments in favor of the players, as the “Handelsblatt” explains. However, there is one important restriction: Players and providers are still waiting for a judgment from the highest court.
Nevertheless, experts are observing an increasing number of lawsuits. They concentrate primarily on the five industry giants, which together make up around 95 percent of the gaming market.
“The current claims from the lawsuits are likely to be just under 100 million euros,” said lawyer István Cocron from the law firm CLLB in Munich to the “Handelsblatt”. But the sum is only a snapshot. The interest of start-ups and law firms is great, there are more and more cases. And with it increasing claims for damages.
However, such lawsuits are time-consuming and expensive. The operators are usually based in Malta, Cyprus or even overseas. Also, they don’t like paying, even when they receive clear court judgments.
Because legal protection insurance excludes cases of gambling, service providers such as Chargeback24 and Helpcheck advertise with legal cost financing for injured parties. The service provider defrays all costs. Your fee is a certain percentage of the losses recovered. Clients currently have to reckon with a success fee of around 38 percent, which goes to the legal experts.
That’s a lot of money. But: Those who are only left with a 38 percent success fee instead of a 100 percent loss have gained something.