For many years, online gambling operators have been quietly offering their services to Poland players. However, over the last few years, the country’s Government has informed companies that it intended to introduce new legislation in order to regulate the online gambling industry properly. The new gambling legislation of the country was enforced on April 1st, 2017, with new tax regimens and tighter regulations which has made the market conditions almost unbearable for operators to survive.
At the end of April, Poland expanded its online gambling blacklist with more unacceptable companies which operate in the iGaming sector. As a result, the list of companies that choose to left the newly-regulated market of the country literally getting longer by the hour.
Poland has implemented a new tax structure that is currently making license application procedure quite undesirable for online gambling operators, which resulted in a number of leading brands exiting the country’s market. Still, despite the fact that some of the major gambling operators have exited the local market, a number of smaller online gambling companies have chosen to keep their presence in Poland. However, under the new Polish Gaming Act, they are to be now considered illegal.
At the same time, the country’s Government has been keeping a close eye on the situation at the local gambling market, and more specifically on the companies operation there. As mentioned above, the online gambling domains blacklist is constantly growing.
Recently, Poland’s Ministry of Finance added a number of new names to its Illegal Domains Register, including bet-at-home, Marathonbet and Vulkanbet. The afore-mentioned gambling websites owners failed to apply for an operating licence as they are obliged to under the provisions of the new online gambling regulation which went into effect on April 1st, 2017. Lacking a licence is a reason absolutely enough for the ministry to order the local Internet service providers to block access to such operators’ domains, starting on July 1st.
Under the new legislation and regulatory frameworks of the country, Internet service providers will be required to take the necessary actions within 48 hours after a certain domain is blacklisted. Otherwise, they are to be imposed a fine amounting to $64,500 for failing to comply with the country’s law.
Polish Gaming Act
For a few years, the country has put the gambling companies’ operations in the local market under very little monitoring and scrutiny. However, over the last few years, the Polish Government has taken some measures to tighten the control by introducing brand new gambling legislation aimed at making the rules clear and transparent for every operator that runs its services in the country.
Under the new Gaming Act of the country, the foreign online gambling operators will be allowed to offer sports betting services to local customers under an operating license issued by the country’s competent authorities. This decision had been adequately projected by a number of leading international bookmakers that had chosen to exit the Polish gambling market before the new Gaming Act was brought into effect.
The Polish Gaming Act has been pointed as one of the main reasons for the exit of so many leading gambling companies out of the country, but it is certainly not the only one. There is another great issue that have had a decisive role in the recent exodus of the online gambling providers, related to the new tax laws imposed by the Government.
The country has imposed a 12% gaming tax on the online gambling providers which operate in its gambling market, which is to be paid by the companies on their sports betting revenue. Such a tax would undoubtedly hit the profits of the online gambling companies, especially when we take into account the fact that operators’ services are restricted to web-based sports betting for the time being.
According to most online gambling operators, the so-called “turnover tax” is not only controversial, but even unthinkable.
Leading Operators Decide to Exit the Market
As Casino Guardian has reported on previous occasions, the significant changes of the local gambling legislation and regulatory framework led to the exodus of a number of leading gambling companies from the Polish market.
Pinnacle, William Hill and bet365 were the first who informed their players for their decision to shut down their services in the country. Then, Mr Green and Betfair joined the ranks of the companies leaving the newly-regulated market, with all five of them protesting against the new rules. According to these operators, the Polish Government was aiming to create more favourable environment for the state-owned Totalizator Sportowy by making the local gambling market “unworkable” for foreign operators.
The international gambling operators that exit Poland have all contacted their players and affiliates in the country and informed them for their decision. By telling them that their services would no longer be available for Polish customers, they also urged them to withdraw the funds they have accumulated in their accounts.