Poland Weighs Cost Of Unregulated Online Gambling

Poland Weighs Cost Of Unregulated Online GamblingThe good news for Poland is that since regulating its online gambling industry in 2011 the industry has grown to become a €1 billion market. The bad news, however, is that the country’s four licensed Polish operators account for just 9% of that amount, with around €142 million in potential tax revenue being lost annually to unregulated, grey market operators.
Key to understanding the challenges faced by the Eastern European country’s online gambling market is the fact that the Polish Gambling Act strictly forbids all online poker and casino games being offered inside Poland, whilst permitting just internet sports wagering for its Polish only licensed operators. The reason for the government’s stance on the issue is that it asserts sports betting depends upon the performance of the teams and so is theoretically less likely to be rigged than other forms of gambling which could take place online.
As a result, Poland seems instead content to allow unregulated grey market operators to channel millions of euros in potential tax revenues out of the country each year, and as DLA Piper Anna Wietrzynska-Ciolkowska explained to pokernews recently:
“Referring once again to the Roland Berger report, it is estimated that Poland loses approximately PLN 600 million (approximately €142 million) in potential tax revenue, which would be paid in Poland by international betting operators if they were allowed to have a Polish license. I do not have any similar data for poker, but I would assume that the figure would be similar.”
The strict monopoly Poland has tried to exercise over its online gambling industry, however, has drawn the attention of the European Commission which sees the country’s practice of granting online licenses to Polish operators only as in conflict with current EU treaties permitting the free movement of services within the Union. Consequently, at the end of last year the European Commission sent a letter to Poland’s government seeking to clarify “whether the measures in question are compatible with Article 56 TFEU, which guarantees the free movement of services.”
One of the consequences is that Poland’s Gambling Act has now been amended to allow non-Polish online payment processors, such as Skrill and Neteller, to offer their services inside the country. Needless to say the drive towards a well-rounded online gambling industry may gradually be taking shape in Poland but the introduction of online poker anytime soon remains but a far distant prospect. In the mean time unregulated, operators continue to thrive in Poland’s grey market.

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