A number of amendments to the Polish Gambling Act have been passed by the country’s Council of Ministers as it looks to end any uncertainty over the legal status of online gaming in the country.
As well as ending Poland’s status as a ‘grey’ market, the changes also aim to offer players greater protection against the negative consequences of gambling and increase social awareness of the risks associated with illegal play.
The main amendment is to expand the range of games that can be offered online, namely online poker, while establishing a monopoly for a State Treasury company for all products other than sports betting and promotional lotteries.
A blacklist of unlicensed operators will be established and published on a Ministry of Finance website, with Polish internet service providers required to block access to such sites. Payment service providers will also be required to block transactions from such unlicensed operators.
Though online poker will be subject to the state monopoly, tournaments outside of casinos will also be permitted. A new State Treasury company will be formed to oversee the operation of gaming machines in the country, which will have the power to outsource this duty to a third party.
The legislation also looks to make it easier for foreign operators to secure a licence, by waiving the need for those supervising or conducting gambling services to secure professional licences.
A list of entities liable to face fines for breaching the act has also been extended, with licensees also required to compile and apply responsible gambling regulations.
However the bill does not set a new gaming tax rate. Currently tax is based on players stakes rather than gross gaming revenue, which has widely been attacked as a rate which prevents operators from generating meaningful returns on their activities.
The legislation was passed by the Polish Council of Ministers last month with a view to bringing it into force from January 1st 2017. However, Anna Wietrzynska of DLA Piper notes that such a close date for the implementation may be problematic, due to the need to notify the European Commission of the amendment.
“The adopted model of regulations where any and all online gambling games apart from betting and promotional lotteries are subject to State monopoly without providing wider justification of the adequacy and proportionality of this measure may give rise to doubts as to the compliance of such regulations with EU law,” she explained.
“Thus, one may expect objections to be raised in the notification process, prolonging the procedure and making the planned effective date of the amendment doubtful.”