Poland Continues to Battle Illegal Operators by Adding Sweeping Ministry Powers

Lee R. - September 27, 2019

Poland is vesting more powers in its Ministry of Finance to battle technological adaptation of illegal operators continuing to serve Polish players.

The market in Poland is still being dominated by illegal operators, and needs more work.

Still a Problem

The discovery comes on the heels of an audit of the Polish gambling market indicating that despite modernizing the regulation model in the jurisdiction with amendments to the country’s Gambling Act in 2017, the illegal market still “dwarfs” the legal one.

Adding Enforcement Powers

The Polish Supreme Audit Office (NIK) concluded that further increases in oversight are necessary, in the form of “additional powers” allotted to the Ministry of Finance to crack down on increasingly sophisticated tactics that continue to elude the enforcement measures and technologies Poland's government has in place to protect the regulated market.

The 2018 Market

For 2018, NIK online market figures taking into account both legal and unlicensed activity, grew to an estimated PLN7.9bn (£1.63bn/€1.82bn/$2.02bn), up from 2015's PLN5.

Illegal Market Portion

While the illegal market growth has slowed, it has not ceased, retaining the dominant value 51% of the market, with unlicensed online wagering increasing 42% over the same period to PLN4.01bn.

Regulation Environment

The amendments to the Gambling Act which came into effect April 1st, 2017 extended a pre-existing 12% online turnover levy for land-based bookmakers, while establishing a monopoly for state-owned operator Totalizator Sportowy in online casino and promotional lottery verticals.

Since the new regime was launched, 14 operators have secured online sportsbook licences in Poland, with high-profile brands such as Unibet, bet365 and William Hill having either withdrawn or been blocked.

Short of Expectations

Despite gambling tax revenue growing in the new era from PLN1.64bn in 2017 to PLN1.90bn in 2018, the earnings are short of government projections.

NIK attributed the shortfall to roll-out delays of Totalizator Sportowy casino products, and delays in the launch of slot arcades, with the first revenue (PLN465,000) not generated until Q3 2018.


With a further amendment empowering the Ministry of Finance effective January 2nd, 2019, the NIK identified the key challenge as shutting down “clone domains,” where operators alter URLs to avoid their sites being taken offline and circumvent blacklisting penalties. Stay tuned.

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