Es steht viel auf dem Spiel.

English Translation

The stakes are high.

Could someone please explain this?

Imagine the game is roulette and you’ve put all your chips on black. So there’s a lot of chips standing or depending on the next game.

at stake adv (at risk) auf dem Spiel stehen*


An expression you might hear now and then in German is “etwas auf das Spiel setzen”, which literally would mean “to put something on the game”, but which means something more like “putting something on the line” or “putting something at stake”.

Du hast dein Leben aufs Spiel gesetzt = you put your life on the line
Wir setzen zu viel aufs Spiel = we’re risking too much (putting too much at stake)

So, “es steht viel auf dem Spiel” could mean “there’s a lot at stake”, “there’s a lot at risk”, “there’s a lot on the line”, or Clozemaster’s suggested translation is just as good: “the stakes are high”.