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Towards the end of 2016, Polish online casino gamers were dealt a telling blow as amendments to existing iGaming laws were passed. It needed approval from both of Poland’s legislative chambers to come into force, but this was attained and now operators have begun pulling out of the country. 888 Group are the latest big name to cull their casino, poker and other gambling operations, with only state-backed Totalizator Sportowy being allowed to operate the first two.
Let’s take a detailed look at Poland’s online gaming regulations and licensing system and what it means for you.
Prior to the changes in December 2016, the Polish Gambling Act only had eyes for online sportsbook.
Overseas-based internet casinos and gambling portals could be accessed by Polish residents who fancied a flutter on some of the best online casino entertainment around.
However, the government began to take aim at our beloved slots, table games, jackpots and other games by implementing a rigid scheme to be dominated by Totalizator Sportowy.
To do away with foreign internet casinos, Poland’s authorities have demanded that internet providers enforce IP blocking on these websites, while banks have been told not to authorise casino payment service requests.
Unfortunately, there is a staggering list of gambling domains on the Polish government’s radar, no fewer than 255 at the time of writing with this figure only set to grow.
The cut-off date for Poland’s internet providers to impose the IP block is 1st July, with substantial fines being dished out to each individual company if the rules aren’t followed.
We’ve heard reports that some gambling platforms are looking to apply for a local license, but this is completely up in the air due to the government’s stance on Totalizator Sportowy.
Due to the Polish government’s aggressive tactics towards banning online gambling in the country, it’s an extremely tricky situation to be in if you’re a resident with a passion for iGaming.
Even worse, a recent comment by First Deputy Finance Minister, Wiesław Janczyk, suggested that the National Tax Authority (KSA) was monitoring the internet to determine whether any gambling laws were being broken due to impromptu meetings – including Facebook and other social media websites!
Although not everyone in the Polish government has an anti-online gambling mindset, we’re extremely disappointed to say that it looks as though this position is here to stay.
In what seems like a trend, Poland is the latest entry adding itself to a swelling list of countries that is implementing heavy-handed igaming legislation amendments that are triggering an exodus of service providers. On April 1st 2017, Poland officially triggered its gambling regulatory regime, making it now one of the European regulated online gambling jurisdictions. Despite the government expressing its intention behind these new regulatory changes as being a liberalisation of the market, the result seems to be very much the opposite. This is because the new regime allows international operators to apply only for a license permitting sports betting. However, only the country’s self-chosen gambling monopoly is eligible to offer all other services including online casino, poker, and bingo games.
There is little doubt the demand for sportsbook services is high in Poland as it is in other European countries. This would have meant that it’s on the brink of flourishing in Poland. However, one of the conditions is that operators will have to pay 12% tax on their turnover. Due to this, there has been no lack of vocal criticism of the Polish Ministry of Finance as this is deemed a rate too high, when considering that in Europe, tax percentage is deducted from the gross gaming revenue.
The Ministry states that it will be monitoring the market closely any infringement. Offshore operators that are not licensed to provide services to the Polish public will be blacklisted and prohibited access to the local gambling community. Since the new regulations came into effect last April, the Ministry of Finance has added 311 domains of blacklisted service providers to its list, with new entries being added almost daily. Come July 1st, Polish ISPs will have the task to start blocking providers from having access to their websites. This method has received criticism quite often for being somewhat ineffective. It seems that online casinos can easily find a way to circumvent the roadblocks set out by ISPs.
While the real target of this purging are actually black-marketed businesses, who remain in service despite them coming under fire, this is resulting in actually scaring off quite a few major reputable providers, especially due to the oppressive tax system and the limiting of services they are allowed to provide. Some of the big names that are joining the exodus include William Hill and EnergyBet – the company behind EnergyCasino – as well as SlotsMillion and ShadowBet more recently.
Meanwhile, some of the best casinos still offering their services to Polish players include the following:
While all serious and fully regulated operators are willing to comply with an increasingly structured and regulated market, as the trend seems to be in Europe. However, when countries go overboard by implementing over-taxation and over-regulation, this severely stilts companies from functioning optimally and providing good service. Thus, the easier solution being to opt out.