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FIFA in Austria = gambling?

In keeping with the numerous rulings and developments in gambling law that can be found sufficiently here on the blog, there is now also movement on the question of whether certain features in computer games could be considered gambling. The district court of Hermagor in Carinthia (Austria) has now ruled on this and decided that the FUT system in FIFA should be considered gambling because it is pure chance what is in the card packs. By the way, I have an article here on the distinction between gambling and skill gaming.

The ruling is of course based on Austrian law, but some aspects are certainly applicable to the situation in Germany, for example the question of how things are sold, what exactly is sold and whether there is a secondary market for the contents. Nevertheless, the demarcation is not as easy as many non-legal media try to make it out to be. For example, the Federal Review Board has ruled that simulated gambling in mobile apps is not a problem, though Google naturally requires disclosure of lootbox probabilities. I have, of course, already been able to think a lot about the topic in designing T&Cs and advising numerous clients from the games sector (there are many legal arguments in this article), so the trend is clear.

I do not think it is far-fetched that similar judgments could be made in Germany because of the specifics of the case and the numerous rulings on the subject of unauthorized gambling in Germany. But it is a gray area and – still – fraught with uncertainties.

However, if one wants to develop a game or mobile app with such mechanics, one should not neglect legal advice for numerous considerations.


Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.

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