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The German Federal Court of Justice is set to rule in favour of a player seeking to recoup past losses from sports betting operator Betano.

The court has published a preliminary legal opinion, comprising a 25-page advisory decision, which indicates that it will side with the player.

This is not a final ruling (see below), and the hearing is scheduled for 2 May.

However, legal experts anticipate that the court’s opinion will trigger a surge in similar lawsuits, adding to the ongoing turmoil in Germany’s gambling industry, which has had to deal with player reimbursement cases for several years.

The case

The case stems from 2018 when a player lost approximately €12,000 on bets placed with Kaizen Gaming-owned Betano.

In May 2023, the Dresden Higher Regional Court ruled in favour of the player, who argued that Betano was not licensed at the time and should therefore refund the money.

Kaizen’s Austrian subsidiary and Betano parent company Betkick Sportwettenservice GmbH appealed this decision.

The legal status of sports betting in Germany was murky until 2020, with several courts handling reimbursement cases dating back to 2012.

During this period, the German sports betting market underwent liberalisation, but the licensing process failed to keep up with the influx of applicants, and in the end, no licences were issued, leaving a legal vacuum in the industry.

Betano had applied for a sports betting licence in Germany in 2012.

However, due to the failure of the licensing process, Betano went ahead and offered sports betting in the German market, according to laywer Thomas Schopf of HFS Rechtsanwälte.

The operator reportedly argued that it was not solely responsible for its unregulated operations, placing blame on the authorities’ delayed implementation of a functioning licensing framework.

Only since 2020 have providers been able to obtain licences for online sports betting in Germany.

In its opinion, the Federal Court of Justice highlighted that Betano’s offering did not meet the requirements of German gambling laws.

The court said that Betano offered prohibited functions and never complied with the €1,000 monthly wagering cap per player as required by Germany’s State Treaty on Gambling.

An unusual first step

Lawyer Schopf, meanwhile, highlighted that it was rather unusual for Germany’s highest court to publish an opinion ahead of a final ruling.

He suggested that this step is designed to prevent the premature withdrawal of the appeal or any out-of-court settlements.

This, he said, was last observed in mid-March during a lawsuit involving Tipico when a scheduled hearing was cancelled just two days prior as the company reached an agreement with the player.

The Betano case is also expected to generate significant attention as Betano is a sponsor of the UEFA EURO 2024 tournament set to take place in Germany.

NEXT.io has reached out to Kaizen Gaming for comment, but the operator has declined to comment on ongoing legal proceedings.

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