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Poland’s New Gambling Act Comes into Force to Rumbles of Discontent

by ThePOGG - May 8, 2017

As of April 1, 2017 Poland’s iGaming industry became subject to tighter regulations as a result of the introduction of its new Gambling Act. Government intent had clearly been to introduce a raft of regulations that addressed contemporary issues connected with the gambling sector and ones that reflected trends more widely across Europe. Unfortunately the terms of the Act itself have been met with scepticism by both consumers and gambling industry insiders alike, concerned that Poland will become something of a pariah in the gambling world. Already, highly reputed gambling operators such as William Hill and Bet365 have turned their backs on the Polish market, and in all likelihood they are only the first of many to do so.

On the face of it the new Gambling Act introduces measures that are in line with those already in existence in other jurisdictions that permit online gambling; such as only being able to accept Polish players as an operator if you are in possession of a Polish gambling license. However Poland’s government has taken steps that gambling operators consider prohibitive to their success in the Polish market. The major bone of contention has arisen as a result of tax changes for licensed gambling operators who will be taxed at a rate of 12% under new regulations. Whilst reputable gambling operators do not object to being taxed to a reasonable degree – many consider 12% to be an unreasonable rate – hence the withdrawal of several trusted brands from the Polish market.

Players themselves are rightly concerned that in forcing online operators to pay heavy tax rates, the government are likely to also force them into worsening playing conditions for players to cover their rising costs and falling profits. Promotions are likely to be negatively affected and the return to player statistics are likely to become even less favourable. If this becomes the trend then players will undoubtedly lose sight of the government’s good intentions – instead turning to unregulated black market operators who appear to offer excellent promotions – but ultimately act as siphons – extracting honestly earned cash from vulnerable players who feel let down by the very Act set up to protect them. Already the Polish Ministry of Finance has started adding restricted domains to its new Blacklist of Operators in preparation for it becoming fully operational on the first of July. So far 43 domains are listed in an attempt to block Polish users from accessing foreign sites not regulated in Poland.
The need for some regulation of the online gambling sector is clear, but if the Polish government and other governments around the world do not find a way to strike the right balance between legislating to ensure player safety and allowing reputable companies to make an honest profit, then the future of the industry could be in question in the long term.