As Casino Guardian has previously reported, the Polish crackdown on illegal online gambling in the country caused massive turmoil in the local market, after making it almost unbearable for operators to survive.
In December 2016, the local Government adopted an amendment to the Polish Gambling Act, which was signed by the country’s president and came into force on April 1st, 2017. The new amendments were aimed to be made to the Polish gambling legislation in order to change the regulatory and operating environment of the local online gambling industry. However, they also resulted in serious consequences for the online gambling companies that have been operating in the country.
For a long time, iGaming operators have been allowed to offer their services to Polish players, but the Government has decided to make the regime stricter by rolling out a new tax structure. The latter, however, has made the license application procedure undesirable for iGaming operators. What is more, a number of leading gambling companies have even decided to leave the local market and no longer offer their services to Polish players.
Polish Finance Ministry Crackdown on iGaming
As mentioned above, a new tax structure was imposed on online gambling brands that have been operating across the country by the Polish Government. The tighter regulatory regime turned out to be unfavourable for some of the largest gambling operators such as bet365, William Hill, Pinnacle, Betfair, Mr Green, etc., so they made a choice to voluntarily leave the country.
Some smaller iGaming companies, on the other hand, have decided to keep their presence in Poland, but unfortunately for them, they are now considered illegal under the provisions of the new Polish Gaming Act. Simultaneously, the Government has been following a policy of close monitoring on the local gambling and iGaming market, which includes keeping a close eye on the companies operating there, too.
In the light of the abovesaid, the Polish Finance Ministry is constantly making new additions to its online gambling domains blacklist, which was initially set up on April 1st, 2017. The blacklist, which is officially called “Register of domain names used for the offering of gambling games contrary” to the Act is part of the Government’s crackdown on gambling operators and contains all gambling websites addresses which do not own a Polish license.
The local Finance Ministry has provided gambling companies that have been added to the Government’s blacklist with the opportunity to appeal to the Polish regulatory body within a period of two months of the day they have been included in the register and appeal the authorities’ decision. Then, the Regulator is given seven days to issue an administrative decision on the case and either leaving the online gambling operator’s domain in its blacklist, or deleting it. In case that the company is not satisfied with the Regulator’s decision, it is given the right to take the matter to local administrative courts.
The crackdown of the Poland’s Ministry of Finance continues, with the Ministry continuing to add names to its Register of illegal domains which failed to apply for an operating license as obliged to do under the amended Polish Gambling Act.
Under the provisions of the new piece of legislation, local Internet service providers will be urged to take the necessary actions against blacklisted operators within 48 hours after the company’s name is added to the Illegal Domains Register. If Internet service provides fail to do so, the Polish Finance Ministry will impose $64,500 fine for failing to comply with the new Gaming Act’s provisions.
The latest additions made by the Finance Ministry of Poland to its Illegal Domains Register were made on September 11th. Currently, there are more than 970 blacklisted operators which have been suspended from offering their services on the territory of the country.
Leading Operators Leaving Poland Gaming Market
The changes implemented in the new piece of legislation led to the exodus of a number of major gambling operators from the iGaming market of Poland.
The first companies that decided to leave Poland and informed their local customers that their online gaming options would no longer be available in the country were Pinnacle, William Hill and bet365. A bit later, Betfair and Mr Green joined the operators leaving the newly-regulated market of Poland and also raised their voices against the new rules.
At the time when then announced their decision to exit Poland, the above-mentioned foreign gambling operators got in touch with their customers and affiliates to inform them for the decision. Players were also given the opportunity to withdraw the funds accumulated in their accounts before the companies terminated their operations in Poland.
The companies that decided to shut down their services in Poland blamed the Polish Government for trying to make the market environment unfavourable for foreign operators in order to help state-owned Totalizator Sportowy take advantage of the newly-implemented amendments.
New Polish Gaming Act
As Casino Guardian has already reported, the new Polish Gaming Act was first adopted in December 2016 and officially came into force on April 1st, 2017. The main goal of the amended piece of legislation is to considerably reduce the number of iGaming brands that have been operating in Poland without a license and to better protect local players from getting involved with such brands.
However, apart from trying to tackle with the new Polish Gaming Act makes some revolutionary changes to the local gambling market, including extending the number of games allowed on the territory of the country. Before the latest amendments in the Poland’s gambling legislation the country, only online betting and online promotional lotteries have been allowed. Under the new rules, all types of online gambling are officially permitted, including casino, poker and bingo.
Also, the entire online gambling industry of the country is to be subjected to a state monopoly. The only exceptions will be made for online betting and online promotional lotteries, which would be allowed to be provided under a Polish license. Slot machines will be operated only under a special license or registration, while the ones located outside casinos will also be subjected to the state monopoly. In addition, there will no longer be a limit on the number of slot machines in the amended Gaming Act.
Certain changes are also made in terms of poker tournaments, which have been partially freed from the control of the Government. Land-based poker tournaments will be allowed outside local casinos under a special license or a notification, while online poker tournaments will be held under the state monopoly.
An important amendment of the Polish Gaming Act is to made in terms of customer protection. The country’s authorities now require responsible gaming policies to be adopted by the gambling brands which run their operations across Poland.