Poland has overturned its stance on the online gambling industry by choosing to retain control over it instead of licensing it to private betting operators. The Polish Gambling Act was amended earlier this week after the country’s Council of Ministers voted in favour of the restrictions.
The Polish government had previously permitted online sports betting while banning online casinos and poker operations. The newly amended law now permits the latter two verticals as well. But the state will have control over the online casino operations through Totalizator Sportowy, the government-owned lottery operator. The lottery company will now have complete control over games of chance on the internet.
The flip-flops on a gambling policy have most likely been caused by political pressure. The Ministry of Finance had indicated, a mere two months ago that private online betting companies would be allowed to offer slots games on their gaming sites. The latest development has certainly come out of the blue and no one really expected that.
The Polish government justifies retaining control over online gambling via Totalizator Sportowy by stating that online slots are extremely addictive. This way it ostensibly intends to ensure that responsible gaming policies are followed. Furthermore, the newly amended law also makes it illegal for all online operators to offer credit to their customers.
Poland has also loosened up restrictions on poker. For starters, it will allow international operators to enter the market by selling online poker licenses to them. Next, private companies will get the go-ahead to conduct poker tournaments, which are presently only permitted in land-based casinos.
Unauthorised gambling is a major problem in the industry since customers easily access a wide variety of sites using the internet. Therefore, the Polish government will also take steps to protect the business interests of operators licensed by it. It will keep track of unauthorised gambling sites so that it can instruct financial service providers and internet service providers to block payments and access respectively.
The amended gambling law is expected to bring in an estimated PLN 637 million (US $160 million) during the first year it comes into operation. This will then shoot up to PLN 1.48 billion and PLN 2.32 billion in the following two years.
The online gambling market in Poland is currently worth PLN 5 billion, but 90% of it is in the hands of unauthorised operators. The government has plans to increase its share to 40% during the first year, followed by 60% and 80% in year two and year three respectively.
The gambling industry has been very disappointed by the government’s refusal to pull back the existing 12% sports betting turnover tax even though there was some support for this in the cabinet. The amended Gambling Act will be put to a vote in Parliament after the European Commission vets it. It is expected to come into force on the 1st of January 2017.
As far as Totalizator Sportowy is concerned, it has been on a roll all week. A PLN 10 million sponsorship deal with leading football league Ekstraklasa will result in its name changing to Lotto Ekstraklasa along with related branding activities.
Founded on 17 December 1955, Totalizator Sportowy is a Polish company that began operations on 25 January 1956. Its claim t fame were its lotteries, number games and betting. It is one of the most well-known and distinguished Polish company. It has been around for more than 60 years now and has more than 15 branches in Poland.
Its recent sponsorship deal and name change are something to watch out for. It will be inteersting to see how the company fares now after the massive PLN 10 million sponsorship deal!