HomeGambling"Groundbreaking Ruling" Sees Poker Sites Ordered to Refund Losses to Players

“Groundbreaking Ruling” Sees Poker Sites Ordered to Refund Losses to Players


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Online poker sites PokerStars and Bwin must refund over $450,000 to cover losses by players on their sites, a Dutch court ruled on Wednesday.

In a significant ruling that may have widespread ramifications for both players and sites, two Dutch players sought reimbursement for losses incurred on PokerStars and Bwin while the sites operated in the Netherlands without proper licensing.

The court eventually ruled the gambling agreements null and void, meaning the losses — which occurred between 2006 and 2021 — must be repaid.

Gaming Agreements Null and Void?

As reported by De Telegraaf and CasinoNieuws, the Overijssel District Court heard the case of two players who had lost money on the poker sites before the legalization of online gambling in the Netherlands in October 2021.

The players argued that since these casinos operated without licenses in the country, the gaming agreements each player agreed to were null and void. Therefore the sites should reimburse the losses.

PokerStars argued that even if the agreement were to be nullified, it doesn’t necessitate a refund as most of the lost money in poker flows to other players. However, the court disagreed, emphasizing that the money went to PokerStars and was held in their PokerStars account, rather than being directly transferred to other players.

Although both sites have the right to appeal the six-figure ruling, the judgment has been declared provisionally enforceable by the judge and therefore must comply immediately. The ruling also sets a precedent for hundreds of other cases that have yet to come before Dutch courts.

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Lawyer Reaction

Layer Benzi Loonstein, who represented the poker players in these lawsuits, called it a “groundbreaking ruling”, saying they’d been working intensely on the case for 18 months.

“This is the first time that the judge has ordered online casinos to refund the bets made to players,” said Loonstein. “The gambling companies have clearly ignored their duty of care.

“The gambling companies have clearly ignored their duty of care”

“They can be reached 24/7 by people, while they do not see the damage being done. I assist clients who have gambled away their deceased parents’ inheritance in a few days or whose savings account that was intended for their old age has disappeared. Such stories are very poignant. These are situations that the gambling companies are not aware of.

“With the rulings made, the court has shown that the behavior of the online casinos was unacceptable and that the losses must now be reimbursed.”

How Much Do They Have to Repay?

According to Casinonieuws, PokerStars will have to repay €230,705 in losses as well as interest, legal and judicial costs. Meanwhile, Bwin must repay €187,622 along with interest and legal costs.

This isn’t the first time poker has been the subject of Dutch courts, with a judge ruling against player refunds in 2015 and a seven-year trial in 2014 ruling that poker was a game of skill, not chance.

However, the Amsterdam Court of Appeals later overturned this ruling in 2016.

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Managing Editor

Based in the United Kingdom, Will started working for PokerNews as a freelance live reporter in 2015 and joined the full-time staff in 2019.

He graduated from the University of Kent in 2017 with a B.A. in German. He also holds an NCTJ Diploma in Sports Journalism.

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