Munich Court Rules That Punter Need Not Pay Gambling Credit Card Debt

Court applies Federal Court of Germany’s case law in reaching decision

It looks as if a German online punter who refused to pay off gambling charges run up on his Landesbank Berlin Visa credit card may have scored with his argument that he was under no obligation to pay for transactions with an online gambling operator who was/is not licensed in Germany.

Recent reports on a German legal website suggest that provided the financial institution involved in such transactions is aware of their gambling nature, German punters cannot be compelled to pay.

The court found that in this case the charges would clearly have been identified as gambling due to a special code, and that the bank concerned had added its own special commission for “casino sales,” evidence that it was well aware of the nature of the transaction.

“The court cannot recognize any wrongful action on the behalf of the defendant. Rather, it is the plaintiff who behaves in an abusive manner if it clearly violates a legal prohibition … the purpose … [of which] … is to protect the defendant from the dangers of gambling,” the presiding officer observed.

Landesbank Berlin hauled the gambler before the district court of Munich, which applied previous case law of Germany’s highest judicial court, the Federal Court of Justice, in reaching its conclusions.

Landesbank Berlin has indicated that it does not intend to pursue an appeal.

Germany’s complicated and confusing state and national gambling law has long been a source of frustration among both players and operators, on occasion incurring the criticism of the European Union and its Court of Justice, and creating the sort of environment in which challenges such as this may be thrown down.

However, few will welcome the potentially chaotic scenario that could emerge if more German gamblers conduct gambling transactions with EU-licensed (but not German-licensed) international operators, and then refuse to pay the piper.