German Pro Steffen Sontheimer’s Bank Account Closed Due To Poker Winnings
One of the many challenges professional poker players have to deal with in their career is having their bank accounts closed due to perceived “gambling-related” activity, and the latest player to fall victim to this is Steffen “RunGo0sseRun” Sontheimer.
The German high-stakes pro revealed on Twitter that Commerzbank had shut down his business account mainly because of the country’s strict stance against gambling.
When you do it professionally, Poker is not a game of luck, so you gotta pay taxes on that in Germany.
— Steffen Sontheimer (@RunGo0seRun) August 19, 2020
Online gambling is prohibited in Germany, and whether or not poker falls in that category has long been a legal gray area. The country’s Interstate Treaty on Gambling does not currently have a licensing procedure for online casino and poker. Thus, online operators, for many years, have been banned from serving local customers, forcing players to move to other countries or shift to offshore sites in order to play, but this does not mean authorities wouldn’t chase after them.
While many other EU countries have already established clear laws that provide for a licensing system for online operators, in Germany Schleswig-Holstein is currently the only state offering licenses. Following pressure from the EU, the country is finally revisiting its gambling laws, with changes expected in 2021.
Until these changes take effect, German professional poker players will have to brace for similar bank problems, as some financial institutions are still choosing to impose a blanket ban on all online gambling practices, including poker, to avoid being called out for breaking the law, something the poker community has strongly criticized.
Sontheimer is one of the world’s most accomplished poker pros, with over $13.7 million in live tournament earnings. The German pro currently ranks sixth in his home country, and his biggest live cash came from his victory in the $250,000 No Limit Hold’em – Super High Roller Championships during the partypoker Caribbean Poker Party in 2018 where he won $3,685,000 in top prize.
Top Poker Players Face Similar Problems
In July, Daniel Negreanu also reported that his business account with Bank of America had been terminated without no proper explanation. The former All-Time Money List leader also cried foul for not being given the opportunity to appeal and explain his side. He maintained that his account did not show any signs of abnormal or unscrupulous activity and that all of the money he had put into the account came from poker.
Doug Polk also encountered a similar issue back in 2015 when around 700-800K of his money was frozen without proper notice from the bank.