Online Gambling Money Back More & More Players Are Registering

Online Gambling Money Back? More & More Players Are Registering

More and more players are applying to recover losses from online gambling at illegal online casinos. Various lawyers have taken up the case because they believe hundreds of thousands of British people are entitled to compensation for online gambling losses. Among them are the lawyers Benjamin Holt and Harvey Walters.

Holt and Walters explain to Justuk.club why affected gamblers from the UK are entitled to compensation for their online gambling losses. The lawyers answer a number of pressing questions about recovering gambled money, a very charged subject.

This article also provides an outline of the situation before the regulation of online gambling in the UK. Read on and find out whether you are eligible to reclaim money lost due to online gambling.

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International Providers Still Focused on the UK

Because online gambling was already regulated in many other countries in the EU, they used licenses from Malta and Cyprus, among others, to target British players.

These gambling companies initially launched British and later English-language websites in the UK to attract players from our country.

The providers claimed that they were allowed to offer online games of chance in the UK with the licenses from other EU member states.

According to them, this was because of the free movement of services within the EU. However, for the British market, a license from the UKGC was required to offer games of chance and if this was not available, the offer was immediately illegal. Foreign licenses are also not accepted in other countries such as Belgium, Switzerland and Sweden. The license must have been issued in the country itself.

Knowing more? Read all about gambling at online casinos without a British license.

Judges Rule in Favor of Players

According to more and more lawyers, players are therefore allowed to reclaim their losses suffered by illegal providers. In the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, judges have already ruled in favor of players several times.

For example, in the Netherlands, Pokerstars and Bwin refunded two players large amounts of lost bets. This was determined by the Overijssel court in Almelo on April 17, 2024. The players had filed a lawsuit against the gambling sites because they believed that the agreement with the sites was illegal. At the time of playing, online gambling was illegal in the UK. The first player lost more than $230,000 between 2006 and 2021 at the American poker platform Pokerstars. For the second player, the loss rose to €187,000 between 2018 and 2019.

Malta Is Trying to Protect Itself Against Claims

At the same time, Malta is already preparing for the flood of claims against the casinos located there. The island, where Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) was the first gambling authority in Europe to issue licenses for online operators, wants to arm itself against foreign claims and prevent their implementation with a special law called ‘Bill 55'. Many gambling sites that focused on British players before the market regulation in October 2021 did so with international licenses from Malta and Curaçao.

Bill 55

Bill 55 has been active since June 23, 2023, but the sustainability of this law is far from certain. According to European guidelines, fines in each EU country must be adopted by other member states. Bill 55 appeals to the Free Movement of Goods and Services within the European Union and states that gambling sites should be available throughout the EU.

Knowing more? Read everything about the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).

Justuk.club has been in contact with Holt and Walters and only asked questions about this charged topic. According to the lawyers, losses made at illegal online casinos dating back as far as 20 years can be recovered.

Who Is Entitled to Compensation for Gambling Losses?

Benjamin Holt: Anyone who has gambled money on an illegal website in the last 20 years may be entitled to a refund of the full amount lost. The agreements between the illegal gambling providers and their British customers have never been legally valid. The operators of these websites should therefore never have accepted money from British players.

Affected consumers can request a transaction overview, including all deposits and withdrawals to and from their account, from the individual providers. Providers based in the European Union are required by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to provide the relevant documents to their customers. Based on this overview, it is possible to determine the exact amount of the gambling loss and to legally claim reimbursement of this loss. 

“The agreements between the illegal gambling providers and their British customers have never been legally valid. The operators of these websites should therefore never have accepted money from British players.”

Benjamin Holt: In many cases, legal action against online casinos is possible without any out-of-pocket costs. So-called litigation financiers cover all legal costs of the affected player and even bear the costs of the other party in the event that legal proceedings are lost. Only in the event of a successful procedural ruling — and therefore reimbursement of the losses to the player — will the litigation financiers receive a commission on the amount received. This allows players to reclaim their online gambling losses without having to invest a single cent themselves.

Thousands of gamblers in both countries have already been reimbursed for their gambling losses. In some cases, individual players have recovered six-figure losses.

Can You Explain What the Ruling of the Almelo Court of April 17, 2024 Means for Affected Players Who Find Themselves in Similar Situations?

Harvey Walters: The ruling of the Almelo court is a first positive step towards the recovery of gambling losses. We have previously seen that several casinos have been ordered to money back their losses in default.

The big difference now is that the casino providers of Bwin and Pokerstars actively participated in the proceedings and defended themselves. Nevertheless, the judge has once again decided that the illegal casinos have violated the Gambling Act and must therefore compensate the losses. The casino providers will of course appeal, but we are currently looking at this with a positive view.

Benjamin Holt: In other European countries with similar legislation, for example in Germany and Austria, case law on this subject is much more developed. Thousands of gamblers in both countries have already been reimbursed for their gambling losses. In some cases, individual players have recovered six-figure losses. 

Other successes have also been achieved in the UK. In a default judgment dated August 23, 2023, the Northern UK court decided that Unibet must refund the lost money to the player. For example, Unibet must repay €93,000 and another, anonymous provider, must repay €124,000. Unibet claimed that the British court would not have jurisdiction.

However, this statement was rejected by the judge on the basis of established case law. The jurisdiction of the British court follows from the fact that the player had access to the website from the UK. The online casino has therefore wrongly focused on British consumers.

Getting money back that you gambled becomes a realistic possibility. Several players have already signed up to demand Unibet money back.

According to the Article on Telegraph, UKGC Receives About 100 Applications Per Week. Has There Already Been an Increase Since the Latest Statement?

Harvey Walters: We are indeed seeing a large increase in affected players reporting to us. The day after the ruling was published, we received around 700 new registrations. We currently receive approximately 100 registrations per day.

Benjamin Holt: Research by UKGC from 2018 indicated that in the previous year, 250,000 to 500,000 individual people in the UK had gambled on illegal websites. So we are talking about hundreds of thousands of victims. We therefore expect many more registrations.

We are seeing a large increase in affected players reporting to us. The day after the ruling was published, we received around 700 new registrations.

Are all operators behind the 1028 brands from the list on your website traceable?

Benjamin Holt: The vast majority yes, but no, not all. Not every website lists the relevant provider. In addition, many casinos use complicated business structures. Moreover, there is less transparency in many countries than in the UK. All this means that it is often difficult and sometimes impossible to trace the so-called ultimate beneficial owner of the company behind a particular gambling site.

Will Providers, Such as PokerStars and BWin, Actually Pay?

Benjamin Holt: When the judge issues a judgment against a casino and the judgment is served on the casino, the casino will generally have to refund the losses to the player. If the casino ignores the verdict, it can in principle be forced to respect the verdict and pay. This is called execution or enforcement of the judgment. In the UK, bailiffs are responsible for this. 

This is usually done by means of coercive measures, such as confiscation of salaries and bank accounts. Enforcement of judgments in another EU Member State is also possible; this requires cooperation from local authorities. This usually happens after a summary review of the judgment by the court in the country where it is to be executed. There are a number of exceptions on the basis of which enforcement of a foreign EU judgment can be refused.

Bill 55 means that foreign judgments against Maltese casinos should not be enforced as this would breach Maltese public order. However, the above-mentioned exception is intended to protect public order and not the economic interests of a country, which makes Bill 55 undoubtedly inadmissible under EU law and can therefore never be upheld by the EU. The EU has already announced an investigation into Bill 55 in the autumn of 2023.

There is no (reasonable) doubt that enforcement of judgments in Malta will be possible again in the medium term, and that sooner or later all casinos will have to respect all judgments of the British courts.

Harvey Walters: The companies will initially do everything they can to delay the procedure. They will also appeal. It is expected that they will not voluntarily make payment, which means that enforcement measures will have to be taken by the bailiff.

Does This Only Concern Casinos With a Maltese License? Or Are There Also Companies With a Permit That Fall Outside the EU Jurisdiction?

Money BackBenjamin Holt: In principle, this concerns all casinos that have been active since then without a license from the Gaming Authority. It is irrelevant how many and which foreign licenses these casinos had. A license from the UKGC has always been required to offer (online) games of chance in the UK.

All major online casinos were active in the UK without a license from the Gaming Authority, and the vast majority of them are located in Malta (and/or in possession of a Maltese license), but these certainly also include casinos from other countries. For example, the operator of bwin.com is based in Gibraltar. Furthermore, many illegal casinos are located in Curaçao and Cyprus.

Since June 2023, Malta Has Been Hiding Behind Bill55. Can the European Commission Declare This Law Invalid? If so, on What Grounds Could This Be Possible?

Harvey Walters: There is no doubt that Bill 55 is inadmissible under EU law and can therefore never be upheld by the EU. After all, the above-mentioned exception is intended to protect public order and not the economic interests of a country. The EU has already announced an investigation into Bill 55 in the autumn of 2023, which will likely last several years. In addition, political pressure on Malta will undoubtedly grow.

We only take action against companies against which we can enforce British judgments. Even Bill 55 can only delay, but not prevent, the reimbursement of gambling losses. Furthermore, the law is currently under investigation by the European Union and will likely be overturned soon. The House will also be informed about progress in the field of Bill 55. After all, the law is contrary to current EU legislation.

There is no doubt that Bill 55 is inadmissible under EU law and can therefore never be upheld by the EU.

How Long Do You Think It Will Take Before People Have Money in Their Accounts?

Benjamin Holt: This obviously varies from case to case. Regardless of the possibility of reaching a settlement, proceedings at first instance normally take between 6 and 12 months. We currently see that most casinos are trying to delay the procedures as much as possible. After the judgment at first instance, there may be an appeal and/or enforcement proceedings. At best it should take about 12 months for the losses to be repaid, but this could take at least a number of years depending on the case.

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