Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Gowin announced on December 12 new legislation to liberalise sports betting and online poker, which would nationalise slot machines under the same auspices as the country’s national lottery laws.
Stopping the Bleeding
Gowin told Polish Radio that the new revamped model is a direct response to “enormous, multibillion losses” from the gambling bill from Poland’s previous government, a reference to the 2009 Gambling Act banning all gambling activity outside land-based casinos including online.
Gowin explained to Polish Radio that the new measures are part of a legislative shift to get money “flowing back into the budget.”
Additional Ministry of Finance plans include the authorization of land-based slots. Land-based slots would be governed under a monopoly of a government-designated entity, with the Ministry guarding against the “extremely addictive” nature of slots through its strict controls.
Sports bookies will remain illegal, and international activity attempts from foreign operators attempting to serve Polish users will be stymied through IP- and payment-blocking mechanisms.
Though the model is not quite ready, Poland is moving ahead with their regulation plan, which has already been approved by the European Commission. Gowin warns that adaption will take several months, which pushes back the original January 1, 2017 target date the government had set to complete installation of new regulation.
Remaining Grey Area
This puts Polish gambling in what Gowin calls a “shady area of the economy” where the Polish government will lose an estimated PLN 100-300 million a month over the adaptation period, with the loss referred appearing to be calculated from uncollected revenues from newly approved but not fully regulated gambling activity in the interim.
Second Round Pending
Further revisions awaiting approval are currently under review in respective relevant branches of government, with a second bill set to emerge once the first round of legislation proves its effectiveness as enacted law. Gowin identified the establishment of the safety of bookmaker services and online poker play as confirmation of said effectiveness.
Implications for iGaming
The integration process in Poland is clearly underway with full EU approval. The key will be proving the effectiveness of the regulation in light of lingering public concerns about addiction and the safety of using online gambling sites. Crystallizing the definition by Deputy Prime Minster Gowin of the Polish taxation and licensing system looks to be the next step.