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Poland targets unlicensed operators and prepares to legalise poker

Last week the Ministry published a list of points to be covered by the forthcoming amendment to the Polish Gambling Act, with IP and payment blocking a key point. This will be used to target operators that have not obtained a licence to offer their services to players in Poland, helping to increase market share for licensed operators.

The regulator believes that this will ensure a higher level of protection for players, explaining that “only lawful operators guarantee offering games in a safe and responsible manner.”

New controls for slot machines have also been suggested, with the operation of slots to be restricted to a designated monopoly operator.

“Slot games are extremely addictive for gamers and it is therefore necessary solution to ensure special protection for players,” the Ministry said. “Slot machine games will be able to be offered only in dedicated controlled areas and will not be available for those under 18 years of age.”

The Ministry also pledged to “tighten penalties relating to the violation of the law on gambling”, although it did not set out details of the penalties.

“Illegal gambling operators will be subject to more severe consequences, which will hamper their operations and thus increase the market share of legal entities offering gambling,” it said.

Poker will also be liberalised, both offline and online. Companies will be permitted to organise poker games outside casinos, with the rules for organising such games to be simplified.

Finally, the Ministry aims to cut red tape for companies directly supervising and operating gambling games. Previously, employees were required to pass professional exams, though this will be scrapped and replaced by training obligations for staff. This, the Ministry says, will reduce the cost of doing business.

The proposals have been published after the country’s deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Gowin, a member of the minority Polska Razem party, issued separate proposals. These also included the possibility of legalising poker, but set a 20 per cent gross gaming tax on sports betting to replace the current 12 per cent turnover tax.

The Ministry of Finance’s proposal, put forward by the government’s majority Law and Justice Party (PIS), is more likely to pass into law.

“In the opinion of the Ministry of Finance the above proposals represent a compromise between ensuring the highest possible level of protection for players from the negative effects of gambling (including by limiting the ‘gray zone’) and the guarantee of the existence of a transparent and well functioning market for legal gambling,” the Ministry said.

The project was submitted for departmental consultations and aims to bring in the new controls from January 1st, 2017. However, law firm DLA Piper notes that this time frame is “quite challenging” as it fails to take into account the European Commission notification process, which it believes may take longer than three months.

“Another question mark is whether there will be any transitional period for operators to adjust their activities and apply for licences under the new regime,” DLA Piper adds.

GamingIntelligence 


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