Regulators, Mount Up: Operators Prepare for New Polish Gambling ActPublished February 27, 2017 by Lee R
Stakeholder opposition did not lead to discarding of Poland’s version.
Poland is getting to regulate, but not without some operator turbulence.
Sports betting operator Pinnacle Sports has announced it is getting out ahead of the April 1st regulated market in Poland. The Curacao and Malta-licensed operator cited “regulatory changes” as the reason behind the decision.
Approved by Parliamentary vote last December, Poland’s Gambling Act was signed into law by President Andrzej Duda in early January and sent to the European Commission, initiating a mandatory waiting period expiring March 31.
The Controversial Tax
With a 12% tax on wagering turnover, operators have voiced opposition to what they consider a high rate which compromises profitability in an online sports betting market valued at over €100 million ($105.5 million) in RGA’s latest report.
EU officials and other industry stakeholders have also taken issue with the Poland’s online gambling framework. Many foreign industry operators have submitted formal complaints to the European Court of Justice on the grounds that the framework is designed to favour state-owned betting firms.
Poland Declines Operators
Last year, the Polish government rebuked all European Commission pressure to align its gambling industry framework closer to European business policies. The newest version of the Act actually tightens the restrictions on casino and slot games.
The New Regime
The amended Act adds bingo, casino and poker to the existing sports betting and lottery sites available online in Poland, with these new offerings offered solely through the state-owned Totalizator Sportowy gambling monopoly. Totalizator will also be responsible for new responsible gambling policies, with all online operators have been forbidden from offering credit to their customers.
Benefits Out There
There appears to be a socially productive side to the restrictions. With the government estimating that the changes will generate PLN 637m (US $160m) for the state in its first year, and PLN 1.48b and PLN 2.32 in years two and three, respectively, any safeguards against addiction in this new environment would appear reasonable.
Nonetheless, the types of restrictions being implemented in Poland are clearly imposing on the comfort zone of many operators. Let’s face it, state-owned monopolies running markets will never be popular to private gaming operators.
Let Chips Fall
Amid the bickering, the key stakeholders remain the people themselves: if Poland’s current system will be sustainable only if it translates to rapidly tangible social benefits, with operators in or out at their own discretion. If the market is too constrictive to operators, a mass exodus could lead to changes which remain Poland’s sovereign right to implement and amend.