Online poker may become legal in Poland if the country’s Deputy Prime Minister has his way. At a press conference recently Jarosław Gowin made a statement on how his Poland Together party would strive to amend Poland’s 2009 Anti-Gambling Act, which effectively made gambling illegal in the country. Further restrictive legislation in 2010 then permitted gambling but did so under fairly tight regulations.
Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party has yet to deliver its draft of a new gambling bill and Jaroslaw Gowin has emphasised that his proposals are entirely his own, not the government’s. However, he hopes that his plans will soon gain broader support across the Polish parliament. Poland may legalize online poker if the country’s deputy prime minister is successful in convincing the Polish legislature to support his pro-gambling stance.
The 2010 legislation in Poland primarily targeted land-based gambling companies, mainly casinos, but it was quickly followed up by further legislation in 2011 which dealt specifically with online gambling. Since 2011’s Polish Gambling Act, the the online gambling market has been regulated by a restrictive set of rules that forbids online poker and allows online betting only on four operators holding state-issued licenses.
Amendments to the Polish Gambling Act were made in 2015, and were intended to resolve the European Commission’s criticisms that Poland’s gambling laws ran adverse to EU edicts on the movement of goods and services between EU member states. The amendments also lift the requirement for betting operators to create a “permanent establishment” in Poland, which was widely viewed as an unnecessary expense. Despite opening up its online betting market to international firms back in 2011, Poland has only issued four gambling licenses (to Fortuna Entertainment, Milenium, STS and Totolek).
Gowin wants to distinguish poker and sportsbetting as less harmful than “hard gambling” products like slots and “casino games.” He is proposing that Poland’s current 12% tax on sports betting turnover be replaced by a 20% tax on betting revenue, and 10% of the government’s tax take should be shared with the country’s Olympic Committee and initiatives to aid problem gamblers. He also wants to allow Polish-licensed operators to offer online poker and authorize private poker games in people’s residences (currently poker is only allowed in licensed casinos in Poland).
The deputy PM is claiming that Poland’s “extremely restrictive” attitude to gambling had surrendered 95% of the online gambling market to so-called ‘grey’ operators. He believes that it’s now time for “common sense” to prevail and for the Polish government to collect the “hundreds of millions” it was losing every year in possible tax revenue. There’s little doubt that current regulations have stifled the Polish gambling market, and pressure is mounting on the Polish government to relax their regulations.